Ancient Monuments

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Moated site, Park Hall mansion and an associated cockpit 320m and 325m south east of Lower Court

A Scheduled Monument in Bitterley, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.3917 / 52°23'30"N

Longitude: -2.6433 / 2°38'35"W

OS Eastings: 356321.544391

OS Northings: 277270.199252

OS Grid: SO563772

Mapcode National: GBR BN.QKXS

Mapcode Global: VH845.44GV

Entry Name: Moated site, Park Hall mansion and an associated cockpit 320m and 325m south east of Lower Court

Scheduled Date: 7 June 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019201

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33804

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Bitterley

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Bitterley with Middleton

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval moated
site, the remains of a post-medieval mansion, known as Park Hall, and an
associated post-medieval cockpit, which are within two areas of protection.
The moated site was constructed on a north west facing slope. Three of the
four moat arms survive as visible earthworks and each are between 9m and 16m
wide. The northern parts of the eastern and western arms together with the
northern arm have been infilled but will survive as a buried feature. The
western arm is bisected by the collapsed remains of a former stone field wall
of 18th or early 19th century date. The southern arm and the adjoining part of
the eastern arm are both waterlogged. The moat defines a rectangular island
approximately 33m east-west and 45m north-south. Material excavated from the
moat has been used to raise the level of the western half of island by up to
0.8m in order to create a level platform. Additional material from the moat
has been deposited next to the western arm to form an external bank 5m wide
and up to 0.4m high. On the northern side of the island in a central position
are the remains of Park Hall, a brick-built mansion, considered from its
architectural features to date from the early 17th century. It collapsed in
the mid-20th century and now survives as a rubble mound. The earliest large
scale Ordnance Survey map (published in 1885), together with articles and
photographs of the building produced around 1920, indicate that it was a
rectangular structure with projecting bays to the south west and north east.
It was of two storeys with an attic room in the projecting bay to the south
west. Mullions and transomes defined window lights and were made of moulded
bricks, as were the copings to the crow-stepped gables. There was apparently
an octagonal stair turret with a conical roof in the north west angle. A
contemporary brick-built wall, of which the lower courses remain, survives to
the north of the house site. This wall overlies the scarp defining the north
western side of the moated island. Documentary sources indicate that the house
was occupied by churchwardens from Bitterley parish church during the late
17th and early 18th centuries.
Sixty metres north east of Park Hall and protected within the second area,
close to the road that runs through Bitterley village, are the remains of a
cockpit - a structure where cockfighting took place. It is situated on level
ground and survives as a slighty oval mound 9m by 10m across and up to 0.7m
high, with a depression 3.3m by 4m in the centre. Stone and brick were used in
its construction indicating that it was probably built at the same time as
Park Hall. The cockpit is included in the scheduling to preserve the
relationship between it and the post-medieval house.
All fence posts, the stone wall bisecting the western arm of the moat, a
modern garden wall, a cast iron water pump, and an electicity pole are
excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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, Park Hall mansion and associated cockpit 320m and 325m south
east of Lower Court survive as well-preserved examples of their classes of
monument, despite subsequent partial alteration to the form of the moat. In
addition to the remains of Park Hall, the moated island will retain structural
and artefactual evidence of earlier buildings. The remains of all these
structures 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 surfaces under
the raised interior and the external bank, and within the moat, will also
provide information about the changes to the local environment and the use of
the land before and after the moated site was constructed.
Cockpits were constructed during the medieval and post-medieval period as
places of entertainment for the higher sections of society. Cockfighting was
made illegal in 1849. The cockpit in Bitterley, which is understood to be one
of only two identified in Shropshire, survives well. The association between
the post-medieval house and the cockpit provides further evidence for the
lifestyle of the occupants of Park Hall.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Burton, P J R, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Natural History Society' in Park Hall, Bitterley, (1921), 143-46
Forrest, H E, 'Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society 4th Series' in Some Old Shropshire Houses And Their Owners, , Vol. 11, (1928), 86-87
County Series map 1:2500, (1885)

Source: Historic England

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