Woodhouse moated friary of Hopton Wafers


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010372

Date first listed: 20-Jul-1992


Ordnance survey map of Woodhouse moated friary of Hopton Wafers
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Hopton Wafers

National Grid Reference: SO 64695 77194


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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 seigniorial 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. A friary is a settlement housing a community of male mendicants. It is normally composed of a discrete group of buildings and open spaces, bounded by a precinct wall. The friars, who depended on alms and gifts for subsistence, devoted their lives to preaching, evangelism, and learning, and the friaries were generally situated on the margins of urban occupation. The main mendicant orders associated with English friaries include the Franciscans (Greyfriars), Dominicans (Blackfriars), Austin Friars and Carmelites (Whitefriars). Such orders were established in prominent English county towns from at least the mid 13th Century onwards, although some of the early foundations seem to have been rural. Due to their highly varied form and comparative rarity, surviving examples are considered to be of national importance. The Austin Friary of Hopton Wafers is one of the earliest English foundations of the Augustinians. It represents one of the more unusual rural settlements. The moated friary is well-preserved and retains considerable potential for the survival of archaeological evidence within its interior.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The moated friary at Woodhouse lies 1.2km to the north-east of the village of Hopton Wafers. The moat is trapezoidal-shaped and measures 115m north-south, 110m wide at the southern end, and approximately 65m at the narrower northern end. The moat arms are identifiable except in the south-west corner where they have been in-filled and in the north where the ditch has been enlarged to form a pond. The modern causeway on the southern side is believed to be located in the position of the original entrance. The moat island is known to be the location of the Austin Friary founded in the 13th century. At present the site is occupied by a farmhouse and several outbuildings believed to have 17th century origins. The farm buildings at the southern end of the site stand upon a substantial platform up to 1m high. The island also contains a deep stone lined well, gardens and a tennis court. The Austin Friary of Woodhouse is recorded as being one of the two earliest English foundations of the friar hermits of St Augustine. The settlement was founded in 1250 with gifts from local families. It was unusual in that it chose to remain remote, unlike most friaries which became established in towns after 1256. In the late 13th century the friary had seven friars. It is also thought likely that William Langland, author of Piers Plowman, was at one time a resident at Woodhouse. By the time of the Dissolution records show that the estate of Woodhouse comprised 50 acres of pasture and woodland; it was sold in 1554. The main farmhouse with cellars, and the well in the courtyard north east of the farmhouse are totally excluded from the scheduling. All other buildings and out-buildings are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground below these buildings is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 13682

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire: Volume II, (1973)

End of official listing