Stanstead Hall moated site


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011463

Date first listed: 14-Feb-1995


Ordnance survey map of Stanstead Hall moated site
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Jan-2019 at 08:27:34.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Braintree (District Authority)

Parish: Greenstead Green and Halstead Rural

National Grid Reference: TL 82706 28896


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 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.

Stanstead Hall moated site is well preserved and retains above ground several features, such as the chapel, which are typical of moated sites but which rarely stand above ground today. The moated site will also retain buried archaeological remains relating to the occupation of the site. The waterfilled ditches will retain environmental evidence relating to the economy of its inhabitants and the landscape in which they lived. Stanstead Hall has a well documented history and has been associated with a number of important historical figures.


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


The monument at Stanstead Hall includes a moated site situated on a north facing slope overlooking the Colne Valley. The moated site is rectangular in shape and measures 125m north-south by 110m east-west, including the ditches. The ditches are waterfilled, by a spring, and are an average of 10m wide. An external bank, 4m wide and approximately 1.5m high, runs along the western arm of the moat. The north western corner of the moat has been enlarged to form an ornamental pond. There are remains of a 16th century brick built tower at the outside north western corner of the moat ditch. The tower measures 8m square and the walls survive to 2m in height. A 16th century brick built wall runs from the tower along the outside edge of the north arm of the moat. Access to the island can be gained across all four arms of the moat, although the remains of a brick bridge over the eastern arm, in proximity to the road, indicate the location of the original entrance. The island measures 100m east-west by 105m north-south. An early 16th century house, which is Listed Grade II*, occupies the centre of the island with modern outbuildings situated to the west and south west of it. 25m north of the house are the remains of a chapel. This survives as a flint rubble structure 10m east-west by 7.5m north-south with walls 1.1m thick and 1.3m high. There are buttresses on each corner. The chapel remains, the 16th century brick tower and the brick wall are included in the scheduling. The first evidence of a structure on this land dates from the reign of Edward the Confessor when Godwin, Earl of Wessex, inhabited a manor at Stanstead. When William the Conqueror annexed all the land, manors and farms, the estate was given to Robert Malet, who held the office of Chamberlain of England in 1092. He was, however, banished from the realm and his estates seized for his part in the conspiracy to undermine the authority of Henry I. The estate was subsequently awarded to Hubert de Monchensy. The estate passed by marriage to Walter of Colchester in the mid 13th century and again to Sir John Bouchier soon after. In 1340 Sir John Bouchier became Lord High Chancellor of England and was succeeded by his son, Robert, who in 1341 obtained a licence to make his home at Stanstead a castle. It was at this point that the moat was constructed. The manor remained in the hands of the Bouchier family until it passed, by marriage, to Sir William Parr, grandfather of Catherine Parr. Sir William Parr was made Earl of Essex in 1551 and soon afterwards Marquis of Northampton. The marquis lost his lands for supporting Lady Jane Grey. Queen Elizabeth, however, restored Stanstead Hall to him and within three days he had sold the estate to Sir William Waldegrave. The house passed through various hands until it was bought by George Ausrene Esq., Member of Parliament for Stamford in Lincolnshire, who was the owner at the time of the survey taken of Essex and its great houses in 1720. There is little known about the manor from this point until 1907 when it came into the hands of Samuel Courtauld, then, by marriage, to R A Butler, Member of Parliament for Saffron Walden. In 1986 the house passed to its present owners. The house, outbuildings, modern garden walls and driveway are all excluded from the scheduling, though the ground beneath them 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: 20733

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Smith, G, Stanstead Hall 978-1978
SMR NO: 8617, Information from SMR (8617),

End of official listing