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Moated site 100m south west of Torrell's Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Willingale, Essex

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Latitude: 51.7495 / 51°44'58"N

Longitude: 0.3168 / 0°19'0"E

OS Eastings: 560027.681643

OS Northings: 208188.900311

OS Grid: TL600081

Mapcode National: GBR NHT.8XY

Mapcode Global: VHHMJ.F9V4

Entry Name: Moated site 100m south west of Torrell's Hall

Scheduled Date: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016806

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33253

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 100m south west of Torrell's Hall
and approximately 1km to the north east of the village of Willingale.

The moated site includes a sub-square island which measures a maximum of 14m
in width. This is contained by a steep sided seasonally water-filled moat,
or ditch measuring up to 8m wide and approximately 2m deep. Slight undulations
on the island are believed to represent either the buried remains of a
building or perhaps the spread of upcast from clearing the moat ditch. Two
modern concrete and brick sluices remain visible in the north west and south
east corners of the moat; they are thought to be connected to a 19th century
water management system which is no longer in use.

Torrell's Hall is one of two manors in the parish of Willingale Doe. It is
named after the Torrell family who moved from Little Thurrock to the manor of
Shellow Bowells in Willingale Doe in the late 14th century. The local 18th
century antiquarian, P Morant, believes that the Torrell family built the
manor of Torrells and then moved there from Shellow Bowells. By the time of
Henry Torrell, who died in 1480, the manor was known as Shellow-Torrell.

Although the moated site is too small to contain a large building it may have
contained an associated outbuilding, such as a dovecote or a lodge, in the
grounds of the medieval Torrell's Hall. Present day Torrell's Hall dates
from the 16th century and is believed to overlie its medieval predecessor. The
1800 Estate map of Willingale Doe and Shellow Bowells, the 1837 Tithe map of
Willingale Doe and the 1874 1st edition 25 inch Ordnance Survey map show that
the moated site has changed little over the last 200 years.

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 100m to the south west of Torrell's Hall survives well. It is
largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for structures and other
features relating to the period of occupation. The buried silts in the base of
the moat ditch 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 lies in an area where moated sites are comparatively numerous,
and its unusually small size represents a variation from the more typical
examples in the region. Further moated sites are situated at Shellow Hall,
Willingale, 800m to the south east, The Old Rectory, Willingale Doe, 1km to
the south west and to the east of Skreens Lodge, 1.8km to the north west.
Comparisons between the sites will provide valuable 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), 477-479
Title: Map of Willingale Doe and Shellow Bowells
Source Date: 1800
Essex Record Office Ref: D/P 339/3/5
Title: Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 25"
Source Date: 1874
Essex Record Office: Sheet 42-15
Title: Willingale Tithe Map
Source Date: 1837
Essex Record Office Ref: D/CT/402

Source: Historic England

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