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Passmores House moated site, immediately south of Todd Brook

A Scheduled Monument in Toddbrook, Essex

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Latitude: 51.7618 / 51°45'42"N

Longitude: 0.0907 / 0°5'26"E

OS Eastings: 544378.75506

OS Northings: 209085.56631

OS Grid: TL443090

Mapcode National: GBR LDN.KQK

Mapcode Global: VHHM6.JZ97

Entry Name: Passmores House moated site, immediately south of Todd Brook

Scheduled Date: 3 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019276

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29468

County: Essex

Electoral Ward/Division: Toddbrook

Built-Up Area: Harlow

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Staple Tye

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes a medieval moated site surrounding Passmores House,
located alongside the Todd Brook to the south of Third Avenue on the southern
outskirts of Harlow.

The moat which defines and surrounds the island, has been partially infilled
leaving only the southern arm clearly visible and water-filled. This arm
measures approximately 60m in length and 12m in width and is orientated north
east to south west. The adjoining arms, which continued at right angles to the
east and west, can still be detected as slight depressions of similar width
crossing the grounds to the south of the present house. That to the east is
still shown open and continuous with the southern arm on the Ordnance Survey
25 inch map of 1896, although it was infilled by the time of the 1947 edition.
A slight undulation marks the course of the western arm to the north west of
the present house, although the full extent of both the eastern and western
arms is uncertain. In the absence of any evidence for a northern arm
completing the circuit around the former island, it is thought probable that
Todd Brook provided the boundary on this side.

Passmores, an elegant Georgian country house, is a Listed Building Grade II
and situated in the centre of the island. The house has retained much of its
original appearance, with only minor modifications and the addition of an
eastern stable block in the latter part of the 19th century. Its construction
represents the modernisation of an earlier brick-fronted and timber-framed
building, one range of which was encapsulated and retained within the southern
half of the present structure. Parchmarks caused by stone foundations beneath
the adjacent lawn indicate that an earlier structure also extended some 20m to
the south, incorporating a long hall (running parallel with the east and west
arm of the moat) with additional chambers at either side of the southern end.
Excavations within the western room of the older part of Passmores House in
1999 provided further evidence for the sequence of buildings. This room
contained an early fireplace and was interpreted as a later 16th century
parlour. The parlour was the successor to a chamber, 3m by 4m with brick
foundations, probably constructed in the 15th century at the northern end of
the range identified from the parchmarks. To the east of this small chamber,
also attached to the northern end of the long range, was a small brick-lined
subterranean chamber which was excavated to a depth of 2.4m without reaching
the base. This feature is considered to be a garderobe, or cess pit, also of
15th century date. The absence of fragments of Metropolitan ware (a local
product widely found in the Harlow area) suggests that the pit was infilled
prior to the introduction of this pottery in the 1580s - presumeably in
preparation for the construction of the 16th century parlour. The pit did,
however, contain a wide variety of other artifacts, including a leather shoe
preserved in the waterlogged soil. Both the small chamber and the garderobe
were attached to a pre-existing foundation of mortared flint running beneath
the southern wall of the 16th century parlour. This is considered to date from
the 13th century and to form the north wall of a cross wing, either
contemporary with the structure indicated by the parchmarks, or attached to

The small manor which provided the origin of Passmores can be traced to a
Saxon settlement granted to baron Ranulf after the Norman Conquest. In the
12th century the manor was transfered to Southwark Priory, and in 1199 the
name `Passemer'(retained as Passmores) first appears in a document relating to
land in the parish. The Passemer family held the manor as tenants of the
priory for nearly three centuries, ending their line of succession with
Richard Passemer who is mentioned in a document of 1475. The manor passed to
the Bevis family, presumably as a tenancy, although the will of George Bevis
(dated 1543) suggests that the family acquired full title after the
Dissolution. The 16th century parlour, and the two story timber-framed hall to
which it belonged (now encased within the Georgian house), was probably built
during their occupancy to reflect the family's growing prosperity and
influence. John Bevis served as Constable of the Harlow Hundred in 1562 and
his grandson attained the same office. In 1622 the estate was divided equally
between the second constable's sons, and the Indenture regarding this
inheritance provides some details of the appearance of Passmores at this time.
The farm buildings, some of which which may have stood upon the island,
included a Great Barn, hayhouse, stable, milkhouse, malthouse and tanhouse.
The house itself was divided into two separate residences, one brother taking
the western half, together with the parlour, painted chamber above, kitchen
and larder; the other acquiring the hall to the east and various chambers,
lofts and garrets. It is not clear whether this structure included any part of
the earlier range to the south, but if it had not been demolished by this time
it certainly disappeared soon after the reunited property was sold to
Jonathan Nunn in the early 18th century. Nunn was responsible for the radical
transformation of Passmores into the fashionable brick-built house which was
completed three years before his death in 1730. In 1778 the property belonged
to Champain Collins, passing shortly after to his relative Francis Bailey. By
1820 the Bailey family had reorientated Nunn's house by building a new
entrance on the north side of the block and creating a miniature parkland
landscape to flank the new northern driveway. The house and immediate grounds,
altered only to a limited degree in the later 19th and early 20th centuries,
was acquired by Harlow Urban District Council in 1972, and opened as the
town's principal museum in 1973.

The following items are excluded from the scheduling: Passmores House and all
other standing buildings, garden walls, the surfaces of all modern paths,
drives and yards; all benches, litter bins, external exhibition cases,
bollards, lamp posts and signposts. The ground beneath these items is
however 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.

Passmores House moated site is known to retain significant archaeological
information relating to the structures which stood upon the island in the
medieval period, and during the long period of occupation preceding the
redesign of the central house in the early 18th century. The history of the
site is also comparatively well documented, providing further valuable
insights into the status of the medieval tenants and early post-medieval

Artifacts such as those already found in association with buried features on
the island are also expected to survive within the lower silts of the buried
moat arms, and will provide additional evidence of the moat's construction
and the lifestyles of its inhabitants. Waterlogging has been shown to be a
feature of the archaeological remains at Passmores, promoting conditions
suitable not only for the survival of organic artifacts, but also
environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which the moated
site was set.

Source: Historic England


Historical and architectural study, Jones, J, Passmores. The story of a house, (1994)
Interim excavation report, Andrews, D D, Passmores Museum, Harlow, (1999)
Parchmark photos (Harlow Mus Coll), Passmores Museum, Gt Parndon, Harlow, Essex, (1976)

Source: Historic England

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