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Shellow Hall moated site

A Scheduled Monument in Willingale, Essex

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Latitude: 51.7443 / 51°44'39"N

Longitude: 0.3249 / 0°19'29"E

OS Eastings: 560606.893379

OS Northings: 207627.55792

OS Grid: TL606076

Mapcode National: GBR NHT.QYP

Mapcode Global: VHHMJ.LF44

Entry Name: Shellow Hall moated site

Scheduled Date: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016805

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33252

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 surrounding Shellow Hall which is
located immediately to the south of Shellow Hall Farm and 240m to the south of
St Peter and St Paul's Church.

The moated site incorporates two islands which are separated by an intervening
arm of the moat ditch. The northern island, the largest of the two, measures
approximately 60m square and is level with the surrounding ground surface. It
is approached by a causeway across the northern arm of the surrounding moat
and provides a platform for the Listed Grade II house, which dates from the
17th century. During maintenance work, carried out on the causeway prior to
1988 it was reported that `old stonework' was uncovered. The southern island
is roughly rectangular in plan and measures about 66m east-west by a maximum
of 42m north-south. The uneven surface of this island is raised by about 1m
above its surroundings. The southern island is approached from the northern
island by a causeway across the dividing arm of the moat. The surrounding
moat, is partly water-filled and measures up to 6m wide around the southern
island increasing to 16m in width along the north arm of the northern island.
A section of the eastern arm of the moat, adjacent to the house, has been
partly filled-in although it remains visible as a depression about 1m in

The local antiquarian, P Morant, writing in 1769, believed that the moat was
the site of the manor of Shellow Bowells, named after the de Bowell family who
owned it in the 13th century. By the early 14th century it was also known as
Shellow Jocelyn after the Jocelyn family and from then on ownership of the
manor passed to, amongst others, the Torrell family, owners of the nearby
Torrell's Hall. The moat has little changed from 1800 when it was depicted on
a map of Willingale Doe and Shellow Bowells.

The house and concrete patio, the wooden shed and all fences are excluded from
the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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 with two islands at Shellow Hall survives extremely well. Both
islands are largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for structures
and other features relating to the development and character of the site
throughout its periods of occupation. The buried silts in the base of the
ditches will contain both artefacts relating to the period of occupation and
environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which the
monument was set.

The monument, which represents a variation on the most common single island
moated site, lies in an area where comparable sites are relatively numerous,
enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. A further double
island moated site is situated to the east of the Old Rectory, Willingale,
700m to the WSW, and other single island moated sites are situated at Torrells
Hall, Willingale, 1km to the north west and to the west of Skreen's Lodge,
Willingale, 1.25km to the north east. Comparative studies between these sites
and with 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), 46-47
NAR NO: TL 60 NW, RCHME Field Survey, (1988)
Royal Commission for Historical Monuments of Essex, (1921)
Title: Map of Willingale Doe and Shellow Bowells
Source Date: 1800
Essex Record Office Ref:D/P 339/3/5

Source: Historic England

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