Moated site 100m south west of Torrell's Hall


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 60029 08189

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 100m to the south west of Torrell's Hall survives well. It is largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to the period of occupation. The buried silts in the base of the moat ditch 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 lies in an area where moated sites are comparatively numerous, and its unusually small size represents a variation from the more typical examples in the region. Further moated sites are situated at Shellow Hall, Willingale, 800m to the south east, The Old Rectory, Willingale Doe, 1km to the south west and to the east of Skreens Lodge, 1.8km to the north west. Comparisons between the sites will provide valuable insights into developments in the nature of settlement and society in the medieval period.


The monument includes a medieval moated site 100m south west of Torrell's Hall and approximately 1km to the north east of the village of Willingale.

The moated site includes a sub-square island which measures a maximum of 14m in width. This is contained by a steep sided seasonally water-filled moat, or ditch measuring up to 8m wide and approximately 2m deep. Slight undulations on the island are believed to represent either the buried remains of a building or perhaps the spread of upcast from clearing the moat ditch. Two modern concrete and brick sluices remain visible in the north west and south east corners of the moat; they are thought to be connected to a 19th century water management system which is no longer in use.

Torrell's Hall is one of two manors in the parish of Willingale Doe. It is named after the Torrell family who moved from Little Thurrock to the manor of Shellow Bowells in Willingale Doe in the late 14th century. The local 18th century antiquarian, P Morant, believes that the Torrell family built the manor of Torrells and then moved there from Shellow Bowells. By the time of Henry Torrell, who died in 1480, the manor was known as Shellow-Torrell.

Although the moated site is too small to contain a large building it may have contained an associated outbuilding, such as a dovecote or a lodge, in the grounds of the medieval Torrell's Hall. Present day Torrell's Hall dates from the 16th century and is believed to overlie its medieval predecessor. The 1800 Estate map of Willingale Doe and Shellow Bowells, the 1837 Tithe map of Willingale Doe and the 1874 1st edition 25 inch Ordnance Survey map show that the moated site has changed little over the last 200 years.

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), 477-479
Title: Map of Willingale Doe and Shellow Bowells Source Date: 1800 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Essex Record Office Ref: D/P 339/3/5
Title: Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 25" Source Date: 1874 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Essex Record Office: Sheet 42-15
Title: Willingale Tithe Map Source Date: 1837 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Essex Record Office Ref: D/CT/402


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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