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Moated site immediately east of the Old Rectory

A Scheduled Monument in Willingale, Essex

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Latitude: 51.7438 / 51°44'37"N

Longitude: 0.3145 / 0°18'52"E

OS Eastings: 559888.894043

OS Northings: 207539.982557

OS Grid: TL598075

Mapcode National: GBR NHT.NB4

Mapcode Global: VHHMJ.DFML

Entry Name: Moated site immediately east of the Old Rectory

Scheduled Date: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016800

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33247

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Willingale

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Willingale St Christopher with Shellow and Berners Roding

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes a medieval moated site located to the north east of the
village of Willingale, immediately east of the Old Rectory and 320m north east
of St Christopher's Church in the parish of Willingale.

The moated site incorporates two islands, both rectangular in plan and
separated by an intervening arm of the moat ditch. The eastern island measures
approximately 66m north-south and 52m east-west; it is raised by a maximum of
0.75m above the surrounding ground surface and is approached by a causeway
across the eastern arm of the moat ditch. The western island measures a
maximum of 60m north-south. The two islands are contained by a broad moat on
the north, east and south sides, whilst the ditch surrounding the western side
of the western island has been infilled along with the southern section of the
intervening arm between the two islands.

The moat is considered to be the original site of the Rector's messuages and
is also related to the medieval parish church. The local antiquarian,
P Morant, stated in 1768 that the `Rectory is appendant to the Manor of
Willingale Doe or Warden's Hall' which is situated 850m to the south west and
is first recorded in the 12th century. By 1800, when the estate map of
Willingale Doe and Shellow Bowells was drawn up, much of the western arm of
the Rectory moat had already been infilled. The map shows the extant causeway
across the eastern arm of the moat and a further causeway across the central
arm. By 1837, the date of the tithe map of Willingale, a large square house
and associated outbuildings, shown standing on the islands in 1800, had been
replaced by the `Parsonage House'. This building, together with a range of
offices, outbuildings, yards and gardens is sited on the eastern island. The
small section of the western arm of the moat and the southern section of the
central arm of the moat, which were still open in 1800, had both been filled
in by this time. A single barn positioned across the original causeway between
the islands is all that remains of the numerous other buildings shown on the
tithe map.

The barn, the surface of the drive and the telegraph poles are 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 immediately east of the Old Rectory survives well. The eastern
island and the greater part of the western island are largely undisturbed and
will retain buried evidence for numerous structures and other features
relating to former periods of occupation, some of which are clearly depicted
on historic maps. The buried silts in the base of the ditches will contain
artefacts relating to the period of occupation and environmental evidence for
the appearance of the landscape in which the monument was set. In particular
the ditches infilled before 1800 will preserve undisturbed archaeological
deposits relating to the site's earliest occupation.

The monument, which represents a variation on the most common single-island
moated site, lies in an area where moated sites are relatively numerous,
enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. A further moated
site with two islands is situated at Shellow Hall, Willingale 720m to the east
and other single-island moated sites are situated to the south of the Old
Rectory, Willingale Spain, 400m to the south west and to the west of Skreens
Park Lodge, Willingale, 2km to the ENE. Comparative studies between these
sites and further examples from other regions, will provide valuable
insights into the development of settlement and many other aspects of medieval
society in England.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Morant, P, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex 1763-1768, (1769), 479
'Moated Sites Research Group' in Moated Site Research Group, (1975)
The Old Rectory, LBII, 5/117, List of Bldings of Spec. Arch. or Hist. Interest: Epping Forest,
Title: Map of Wilingale Doe and Shellow Bowells
Source Date: 1800
Essex Record Office Ref: D/P 339/3/5
Title: Willingale Tithe Map
Source Date: 1837
Essex Record Office Ref: D/CT/402

Source: Historic England

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