Shellow Hall moated site


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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

Epping Forest (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 60606 07630

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 moated site with two islands at Shellow Hall survives extremely well. Both islands are largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to the development and character of the site throughout its periods of occupation. The buried silts in the base of the ditches will contain both artefacts relating to the period of occupation and environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which the monument was set.

The monument, which represents a variation on the most common single island moated site, lies in an area where comparable sites are relatively numerous, enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. A further double island moated site is situated to the east of the Old Rectory, Willingale, 700m to the WSW, and other single island moated sites are situated at Torrells Hall, Willingale, 1km to the north west and to the west of Skreen's Lodge, Willingale, 1.25km to the north east. Comparative studies between these sites and with further examples from other regions, will provide valuable insights into the development of settlement and many other aspects of medieval society in England.


The monument includes a medieval moated site surrounding Shellow Hall which is located immediately to the south of Shellow Hall Farm and 240m to the south of St Peter and St Paul's Church.

The moated site incorporates two islands which are separated by an intervening arm of the moat ditch. The northern island, the largest of the two, measures approximately 60m square and is level with the surrounding ground surface. It is approached by a causeway across the northern arm of the surrounding moat and provides a platform for the Listed Grade II house, which dates from the 17th century. During maintenance work, carried out on the causeway prior to 1988 it was reported that `old stonework' was uncovered. The southern island is roughly rectangular in plan and measures about 66m east-west by a maximum of 42m north-south. The uneven surface of this island is raised by about 1m above its surroundings. The southern island is approached from the northern island by a causeway across the dividing arm of the moat. The surrounding moat, is partly water-filled and measures up to 6m wide around the southern island increasing to 16m in width along the north arm of the northern island. A section of the eastern arm of the moat, adjacent to the house, has been partly filled-in although it remains visible as a depression about 1m in depth.

The local antiquarian, P Morant, writing in 1769, believed that the moat was the site of the manor of Shellow Bowells, named after the de Bowell family who owned it in the 13th century. By the early 14th century it was also known as Shellow Jocelyn after the Jocelyn family and from then on ownership of the manor passed to, amongst others, the Torrell family, owners of the nearby Torrell's Hall. The moat has little changed from 1800 when it was depicted on a map of Willingale Doe and Shellow Bowells.

The house and concrete patio, the wooden shed and all fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Morant, P, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex 1763-1768, (1769), 46-47
NAR NO: TL 60 NW, RCHME Field Survey, (1988)
Royal Commission for Historical Monuments of Essex, (1921)
Title: Map of Willingale Doe and Shellow Bowells Source Date: 1800 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Essex Record Office Ref:D/P 339/3/5


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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