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Moated site known as Killigrews

A Scheduled Monument in Margaretting, Essex

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Latitude: 51.6983 / 51°41'54"N

Longitude: 0.442 / 0°26'31"E

OS Eastings: 568858.460186

OS Northings: 202777.768313

OS Grid: TL688027

Mapcode National: GBR NJK.JJY

Mapcode Global: VHJK7.MK1X

Entry Name: Moated site known as Killigrews

Scheduled Date: 11 March 1974

Last Amended: 19 March 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016798

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33244

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Margaretting

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Widford St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes a moated site of medieval and post-medieval date
surrounding Killigrews House, approximately 94m west of the River Wid.

The moated site includes a trapezoidal island which measures a maximum of
46m north-south and 48m east-west. This island is contained by a water-filled
moat or ditch measuring up to 12m wide and at least 3m deep. The island is
revetted with walls of early 16th century brick, of which only a small section
still stands to its original height of 2m; much of the eastern wall has been
removed and the walls towards the western side of the moat have been reduced
to a height of less than 1m. Octagonal brick turrets with moulded bases and
crocketed pinnacles above moulded cornices are built into the north west and
south west corners of the walls and are also 16th century in date. A doorway
in the eastern face of each turret opens into a small chamber; nesting boxes
built into the sides of these chambers suggest that they were both formerly
used as dovecotes. Both the walls and the corner turrets, which are Listed
Grade II*, have narrow slits or loopholes set into them. The modern bridge
across the west arm of the moat replaces a drawbridge which was recorded in
1769 by the local antiquarian P Morant, and provides access to the island.

The house and moated site were originally known as the manor of Shenfields,
after the messuage which was held by `William de Shenvils' in 1279. Sir Guy of
Shenfield who held one knight's fee at Shenfield had a commission in the late
13th century `for recutting his trees, fishing his stews and taking charters'
at his manor. The western half of the present house which is Listed Grade II*,
together with the walls and turrets, is thought to have been built in either
the late 15th or the early 16th century by John Berdefeld (1477-1514) who is
also recorded as having constructed other outbuildings, including a chapel.
The house was refronted and altered in 1714 by William Alexander. The property
subsequently took the name of `Killigrews' from Martin Killigrew who resided
at or near the property in 1735.

The house on the island, the bridge across the western arm of the moat, the
modern brick revetment on the outer edge of the western arm of the moat, the
wooden revetting around the outer edge of the moat ditch, the brick and
concrete pathways, the septic tanks, the wall dividing the east and west
portions of the house (East and West Killigrews), the steps, and the causeway
across the east arm of the moat are all excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and
exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a
significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding
of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples
provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

The moated site known as Killigrews is one of the best known examples of its
kind in Essex. The earliest parts of the house date to the late 15th or early
16th century and are contemporary with the brick revetment of the moat, the
walls which display decorative loopholes and the two elaborate corner turrets.
These various features illustrate the imposing and even defensive nature of
the site, whilst primarily reflecting the wealth and social standing of its
inhabitants. The island remains largely undisturbed and will retain buried
evidence for further structures, including a possible chapel, as well as other
features relating to the development and character of the site throughout the
periods of occupation. The buried silts in the base of the ditches will
contain artefacts relating to such periods and environmental evidence for the
appearance of the landscape in which the monument was set.

The monument lies in an area where moated sites are fairly numerous, with
further moated sites situated at Franklin's Island, Highwood, 4.3km to the WNW
and at King John's Palace, Writtle, 4.2km to the north. Comparisons between
these sites and further examples from other regions, will provide significant
insights into developments in the nature of settlement and society in the
medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Morant, P, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex 1763-1768, (1769), 54
Reaney, PH, Place names of Essex, (1935), 260
'Moated Sites Research Group' in Moated Sites Research Group, (1973)
'Essex Archaeological Society' in Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, , Vol. 16, (), 95
1 copy in ownership of the Burnetts, Tudor-Craig, A, The Manor of Shenfields or Killigrews in the County of Essex, (1935)
The Essex Weekly News, Friday 13 June, Killigrew - History of an Ancient Moated House, (1930)
TL 60 SE 12/383 Listed Grade II*, List of Bldings of Spec. Arch. or Hist. Interest: Chelmsford, (1952)
TL 60 SE 12/384 Listed Grade II*, List of Bldings of Spec. Arch. or Hist. Interest: Chelmsford, (1967)

Source: Historic England

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