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Moated site and remains of demolished parts of Shelley Hall, a post-medieval great house

A Scheduled Monument in Shelley, Suffolk

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Latitude: 52.0054 / 52°0'19"N

Longitude: 0.9543 / 0°57'15"E

OS Eastings: 602872.269559

OS Northings: 238223.689584

OS Grid: TM028382

Mapcode National: GBR SLW.83J

Mapcode Global: VHKFF.HVCK

Entry Name: Moated site and remains of demolished parts of Shelley Hall, a post-medieval great house

Scheduled Date: 9 May 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019815

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33293

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: Shelley

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Shelley All Saints

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich


The monument is located 300m to the south west of Shelley parish church and
includes a moated site and remains of demolished parts of Shelley Hall.
The moated site, which is thought to be contemporary with the present Shelley
Hall, appears to have been built as a garden feature for Sir Philip Tilney in
the early 16th century. Sir Philip's will of 1532 mentions `his mansion
place...with all the gardeynes, orchards, pondes...also the parke with...
the deer', and a 1533 survey commissioned by Sir Philip in 1519 refers to the
manor with a garden on the east side built with stews and ponds and moated on
every side and with a dovehouse to the south of the stews and ponds.
The moated site is situated approximately 32m to the east of the present
Shelley Hall and includes a roughly square island, measuring an average of 50m
across. A geophysical survey on the island revealed the outline of the buried
remains of a formal garden. It identified a series of linear paths with a
small square structure towards the centre of the island, which may represent
the dovecote mentioned in the earlier surveys. The island is surrounded by a
partly waterfilled moat which measures up to 14m wide and 3m deep. The outer
edge of the west arm of the moat is revetted in places with brick, and an
aerial photograph taken in 1953 suggests that at one time this revetting may
have extended around both the inner and outer edges of all four sides of the
moat. Access to the island is via the brick bridge across the west arm of the
moat. The bridge is aligned with an impressive Tudor doorway, in the east face
of what was originally a gatehouse, indicating that the house and moat may
have been linked as part of the original builder's plan. Alternatively, the
moated garden site may represent the modification of an earlier medieval site,
perhaps the medieval manor of Shelley, which would have predated the 1519
Shelley Hall. The medieval lords of Shelley manor were largely non-resident,
but it is likely that there would have been a manor house and perhaps this
stood on the moated site. The structural remains revealed through geophysical
survey may therefore relate to an earlier house.
It is thought that Shelley Hall was originally much larger than it is today.
The part which survives as a standing building, and which is not included in
the scheduling, comprises a range aligned north-south, with a cross wing at
the southern end and the gatehouse projecting westwards from the north west
corner. The east face of the gatehouse to the south of the doorway is partly
obscured by a 19th century addition to the house. There is evidence that the
gatehouse was originally wider (the north wall is not original), within a
range which extended further to the north, and that it opened centrally onto a
courtyard to the east. The foundations of the demolished parts of the building
will survive as buried features; these are marked in part by slight earthworks
in the adjacent ground surface and are included in the scheduling. Evidence
for a contemporary range along the south side of the courtyard is provided by
a blocked doorway in the east wall of the Hall, together with a stub of
walling which projects from the same east wall, and another section of wall
19m to the east of this and on the same alignment, incorporating part of a
polygonal buttress identical to buttresses on the east and west faces of the
surviving building. These last two elements survive in what is now a garden
wall and are thought to represent the remains of a two storey range
interpreted as an alley linking a kitchen in the west range to a hall range
along the east side of the courtyard, opposite the moat. It is probable that
there was a corresponding range along the north side of the courtyard as well.
This section of wall and the associated remains are included in the
After the death of Sir Philip Tilney in 1533 the manor remained in the Tilney
family until about 1627. The Tilneys were cousins of Queen Elizabeth I, and
the Queen paid a visit to Shelley Hall on 11th August 1561. In 1586 Charles
Tilney, great great grandson to Sir Philip, was executed for his involvement
in the Babington conspiracy, whose aim was to kill Queen Elizabeth and replace
her with Mary Queen of Scots.
In 1999 work was carried out on the moated site to reproduce a 16th century
garden on the island. The work, which included the construction of raised
ponds on the east side of the island, was non-invasive and the underlying
archaeological layers remain undisturbed.
All fences, modern path surfaces and raised beds are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included. Also
excluded from the scheduling is a later section of garden wall, approximately
4.75m in length, which is connected to the eastern end of the earlier 16th and
17th century garden wall. The remains of any earlier foundations beneath the
later wall are included in the scheduling.

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 and 16th century building remains at Shelley Hall survive
well. The building remains which are known to extend northwards from the
present Shelley Hall indicate that the hall was much larger and more
impressive in the 16th century. The moated site remains relatively undisturbed
and is known to retain buried evidence for garden remains. A geophysical
survey on the island has demonstrated the survival of at least one structure,
together with the buried remains of a formal garden layout. Known examples of
early 16th century garden remains are rare, and this comparatively well
documented example is therefore of particular interest, making an important
contribution to our understanding of the history of both this garden and of
16th century gardens in general.
Documentary sources enhance our understanding of Shelley Hall and its
relationship with the moated site and the surrounding landscape. The well
documented historical association of the site with the Tilney family is of
additional interest.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Copinger, W, 'The Manors of Suffolk' in The Manorial History of Suffolk, , Vol. 6, (1910), 79-84
Martin, E, 'Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History' in Shelley Hall, (1998), 257-262
Martin, E, 'Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History' in Shelley Hall, (1998), 257-262
HN 66 (copy in SMR), CUCAP, (1952)
SAU, Stratascan, Geophysical survey, Shelley Hall, (1999)
SRO (Ipswich): HD 12:51/3/6, Survey of manor of Shelley for Sir Philip Tilney. 12 June 1519, Extent or Rental of Thomas Tilney Esq, of Shelley, 1556., (1533)
SRO (Ipswich): HD 12:51/3/6, Survey of manor of Shelley for Sir Philip Tilney. 12 June 1519, Extent or Rental of Thomas Tilney Esq, of Shelley, 1556., (1533)

Source: Historic England

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