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Soulton moated site and formal garden remains

A Scheduled Monument in Wem Rural, Shropshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.8683 / 52°52'5"N

Longitude: -2.6769 / 2°40'36"W

OS Eastings: 354531.337898

OS Northings: 330305.799731

OS Grid: SJ545303

Mapcode National: GBR 7L.RB8J

Mapcode Global: WH8B2.V5GF

Entry Name: Soulton moated site and formal garden remains

Scheduled Date: 7 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017236

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32307

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Wem Rural

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Wem St Peter and St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Details

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval moated
site and a post-medieval formal garden within two separate areas of
protection.

The moated site is considered to be the centre of the manor of Soulton. In the
Domesday survey the manor was recorded as belonging to St Michael's Chapel in
Shrewsbury Castle. Records dating to the second half of the 13th century
indicate that by that time the manor was being leased to Robert Corbet. In the
16th century it had been bought by Sir Rowland Hill, which probably led to the
building of a new residence, known as Soulton Hall, 200m to the south west of
the moated site. This house was sizably enlarged in the third quarter of the
17th century and is partly surrounded by a walled garden. The hall and the
17th century garden walls are Listed Grade II* and are not included in the
scheduling.

The moated site is situated on the western edge of the flood plain of Soulton
Brook, at the base of a gentle east facing slope. An oval shaped moat, well
preserved to the north and west (averaging 18m wide), but less evident around
the rest of its circuit, surrounds a rectangular island. The island is an
unusual construction, displaying a well defined stepped profile on all sides,
which is believed to be the result of of its later use as part of the
post-medieval formal garden. The lower step averages 1.2m in height and the
upper step is about 0.8m high. The upper portion raises the height of the
moated island above the level of the surrounding ground to the west. The top
of the island measures approximately 18m east-west by 22m north-south. On the
top there are a series of slight scarps, which relate to the building or
buildings that once occupied the site. Crossing the western moat arm are the
slight remains of a causeway.

In the second area of protection opposite the moat, and to the east of the
17th century walled garden of Soulton Hall, lie the earthwork remains of a
formal garden consisting of a series of well defined terraces and raised
areas, including a rectangular building platform measuring 16m by 11m.
These earthworks follow the same alignment as Soulton Hall and the walled
garden and are believed to be of the same date. It is apparent that the
gardens were laid out in relation to the moated site and to provide an
impressive formal setting for Soulton Hall.

The spring in the north eastern part of the garden is contained and surrounded
by walls of red sandstone blocks and covered by a red sandstone slab. The
complex of garden earthworks opposite the walled garden continues to the north
of the modern road, incorporating and utilising the existing moated site. A
series of shallow channels connect with and radiate out from the northern half
of the moat, some of which also connect with the ditches which now define the
western and northern boundaries of the field. An associated linear depression
to the north of the moat appears to be the remains of a pond. There are slight
traces of terraces on the sloping ground to the west of the moated site.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling, these are: all modern
field boundaries, fences and gates, the water trough and fodder container, the
pump house and a disused section of water pipe, (above ground and encased in
brick and concrete); the ground beneath all these features is, however,
included in the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT
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.

Soulton moated site and the formal garden associated with Soulton Hall survive
well despite some disturbance from road building and the construction of Cedar
House.

The moated site is of an unusual type. Circular and sub-circular moats are
relatively uncommon nationally, and its form may indicate it is an early
example. The moated island, which is thought to have been modified during the
creation of the formal gardens, will retain structural and artefactual
evidence of the buildings that once stood on the site. These structural
elements, together with the artefacts and organic remains existing in the moat
will provide valuable evidence about the occupation and social status of the
inhabitants. Organic remains surviving in the buried ground surface under the
raised interior and within the moat will provide information about the changes
to the local environment and use of the land before and after the moated site
was constructed. The importance of the site is enhanced by documentary sources
which provide ownership information.

Formal gardens dating from the early 16th century onwards were created around
many large country houses, although the majority have been substantially
modified in recent centuries. Within this garden, the earthworks would suggest
that the buried remains of walkways, parterres and other ornamental features
have survived, together with the evidence of planting schemes. These remains
will provide important information about the functional and artistic
development of gardening and landscape design in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
'Transactions of Shropshire Archaeological Society 3rd Series' in Transactions of Shropshire Archaeological Society 3rd Series, , Vol. 4, (1904), XIX
Other
Woodward, I, (1952)

Source: Historic England

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