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Rookwood Hall moated site

A Scheduled Monument in Abbess Beauchamp and Berners Roding, Essex

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Latitude: 51.7756 / 51°46'32"N

Longitude: 0.2605 / 0°15'37"E

OS Eastings: 556051.887348

OS Northings: 210962.965476

OS Grid: TL560109

Mapcode National: GBR MG1.LP4

Mapcode Global: VHHM9.GMLP

Entry Name: Rookwood Hall moated site

Scheduled Date: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016879

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33255

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Abbess Beauchamp and Berners Roding

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: The South Rodings

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes a medieval moated site and fishpond within two areas of
protection at Rookwood Hall located 1.2km to the WSW of the village of Abbess

The moated site includes a sub-square island which measures a maximum of 110m
in width. The island is contained by a water-filled moat or ditch measuring
between 8m and 18m wide and at least 2m deep. A spur or inner arm of the moat
is depicted on the 1838 tithe map of Abbots Roothing, extending eastwards from
the western arm of the moat for approximately 30m to form an internal division
across the island. This has since been infilled although it is thought to
survive as a buried feature. The derelict remains of Rookwood Hall, a 16th
century building, which is thought to have occupied the centre of the island,
were demolished in the 1970s. Two barns, which are Listed Buildings Grade I
and II* and 16th century in date, stand on the east side of the island, while
Rookwood Cottage, thought to be 19th or early 20th century in date, occupies
the south eastern corner. Causeways across the eastern and southern arms of
the moat provide access to the island.

Approximately 40m to the south of the moated site and within a second area of
protection, lies a linear fishpond, measuring 54m in length by a maximum width
of 17m. It follows the same alignment as the moat. The pond, thought to be
contemporary with the moated site, is depicted on the 1838 tithe map. Another
pond, possibly a second fishpond, was formerly situated 30m to the south west
of the moat. This however, has been infilled, and is not included in the

It is believed that Rookwood Hall represented part of the Manor of Roding, the
main part of which was in Beauchamp Roding, which was held in 1086 by Aubrey
de Vere, ancestor of the earls of Oxford. It is possible the moated site
related to the half knight's fee held by Walter Fitz Richard in 1166.
According to the local antiquarian, P Morant, Rookwood Hall was held by John
Fitz Richard in 1250, by Richard Fitz William in 1268, and continued in the
possession of the heirs of William Fitz Richard during the 14th century.
During the 15th and much of the 16th century the manor was held by the Browne
family, and at the time of the death of Thomas Browne in 1488 the manor
comprised of `300 acres of land, 200 acres of pasture, 26 acres of meadow, 10
acres of wood, and a toft, garden and half an acre of land in Abbess Roding
and neighbouring parishes'. Rookwood Hall is thought to have been built by
John Browne in the second quarter of the 16th century. From 1580 until 1698
Rookwood was held by the Capel family, and it is recorded that in 1578
Elizabeth I stayed one night in the hall and held a Privy Council there. The
1696 Oliver map of Essex shows Rookwood Hall standing in a wooded park,
however the wood had disappeared by 1777 when the hall and moat were depicted
on Chapman and Andres' map of the County of Essex. The decline of Rookwood
Hall is thought to have begun in the late 18th century after the departure of
the Capel family. In about 1886 it was replaced by a new farmhouse (also
called Rookwood Hall) which was built to the south of the moated site.

The two listed barns, all other farm buildings, Rookwood Cottage, the fences,
bridges, concrete yards and 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 at Rookwood Hall survives well. Although the moat ditches have
been cleared of silt in the past, the island remains largely undisturbed and
will retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to the
development and character of the site throughout the periods of occupation.
The social standing of the inhabitants in the medieval period is reflected in
the scale of the moat's construction and complements the particularly detailed
information available from the surviving documentary sources.

Fishponds are artificially created pools of slow moving freshwater constructed
for the purpose of cultivating, breeding, and storing fish in order to provide
a constant and sustainable food supply. The tradition of construction and
use of fishponds began in the medieval period and reached a peak of popularity
in the 12th century. They were largely the province of the wealthier sectors
of medieval society, and are considered important as a source of information
concerning the economy of various classes of medieval settlements and

The fishpond to the south east of Rookwood Hall moat forms an integral part of
the settlement and provides further evidence for its economy and status.

The monument lies in an area where moated sites are fairly numerous, with
further moated sites situated 1.75km to the SSW at Envilles and 2.75km to the
south west at Church Farm, both in the parish of Little Laver. Comparisons
between these sites and with further examples from other regions will provide
valuable insights into developments in the nature of settlement and many
other aspects of medieval society in England.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Essex, (1959), 188-193
Morant, P, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex 1763-1768, (1769), 204-5
II 2/4, List of Bldings of Spec. Architect. or Hist. Intst: Epping Fst, (1967)
II* 2/5, List of Bldings of Spec. Architect. or Hist. Intst: Epping Fst, (1967)
Ordnance Survey record card, 4411: Rookwood Hall, (1971)
Title: Map of Essex
Source Date: 1696
Essex Record Office
Title: Map of the County of Essex
Source Date: 1777
Essex Record Office: sheet xii
Title: Tithe Map of Abbots Roothing
Source Date: 1838
Essex Record Office ref: D/CT 292B
Title: Tithe Map of the Parish of Abbots Roothing
Source Date: 1838
Essex Record Office ref: D/CT 292 B

Source: Historic England

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