Bromborough Court House moated site and fishponds, Wirral


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012503

Date first listed: 31-Jan-1980

Date of most recent amendment: 03-Apr-1991


Ordnance survey map of Bromborough Court House moated site and fishponds, Wirral
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wirral (Metropolitan Authority)

National Grid Reference: SJ 34496 84189

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.

The moat at Bromborough is a particularly large and impressive earthwork surrounding the site of the 11th century manor and court house of St Werburgh's Abbey. The main island is open grassland largely devoid of post- medieval activity. This monument, together with a similar moated site at nearby Irby, testifies to the Abbey's dominance and control over this area of the Wirral in medieval times and reflects the affluence of the church and also the diversity in size and function of this class of monument. Additionally, the monument occupies a strongly-defended position by the coast on the edge of a large tidal inlet. Indeed its location infers that direct access to water-borne transportation was important, this being an unusual consideration for such a moated site.


The monument comprises the extensive rectilinear moat that surrounded Bromborough Courthouse, known to be located on the site of an 11th century manor of St Werburgh's Abbey. This site, like the nearby moated site at Irby, indicates St Werburgh's control over this area of the Wirral in medieval times. The monument at Bromborough is a striking example of its type. The rectangular enclosed island originally measured c.170m x 180m giving an overall area of c.3ha. The moat measures 3.4m max. depth x 18m max. width and possesses slight internal and external banks. There is a raised platform towards the centre of the island thought to be the location of the main original building, with foundations of 17th century buildings demolished in the 20th century lying to the E. The site has a large internal fishpond in the NW corner of the island just inside the moat and additionally a large external one lying to the W of the moat. A small pond, now much silted, also lies in the E corner of the site. The concrete bases sunk into the monument to support the elevated pipelines, the structure located at the junction of two pipelines, the angling stations flanking the external pond, and all fences and walls are excluded from the scheduling, although deposits beneath all of these features are 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: 13428

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Christie, R C, Annales Cestriensis or the Chronicles of St Werburgh at Chester
Ormerod, G, The History of the County Palatine of Chester
Young, H E, Perambulations of the Hundred of the Wirral, (1915), 37-40
'Merseyside Archaeological Society' in Bromborough Court House, ()
Bromborough Society, , 'Bromborough Society' in Bromborough Society Annual Report (1955-6), , Vol. 23, (1956)
Bromborough Society, Bromborough Society Annual Report (1967-8), 1968,
Cheshire County Records Office, Transcript of List of Deeds Relating to Bromborough Court,
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Moats, (1988)
Dennison, E, MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Fishponds, (1987)

End of official listing