Moated site immediately east of Heron Hall


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


Ordnance survey map of Moated site immediately east of Heron Hall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Brentwood (District Authority)
Herongate and Ingrave
National Grid Reference:
TQ 64001 91791

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 immediately east of Heron Hall is one of the best known examples of moated sites in Essex. The site, with its surviving brick revetting and tower bases together with its known historical background, illustrates the very grand and possibly defensive nature of the site and reflects the wealth and social standing of its inhabitants. The island remains largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to the development and character of the island 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 is set.

The monument lies in an area where moated sites are fairly numerous, with a further moated site in Herongate, 750m to the SSW and another at Old Thorndon, 2.6km to the south west. Comparisons between these sites and others across the county, will provide valuable insights into the developments in the nature of settlement and society in the medieval period.


The monument includes a medieval moated site immediately east of Heron Hall and 1.2km north east of the village of Herongate.

The moated site includes a roughly rectangular island which measures a maximum of 88m north-south and approximately 80m east-west, raised about 1m above the surrounding ground surface. This island is contained by a water-filled moat or ditch measuring up to 18m wide and at least 2m deep and revetted in brick on both the inner and outer edges. An outer bank measuring a maximum of 20m wide and 1.5m high and thought to represent upcast from the ditch, is visible along the northern and eastern arms of the moat. The northern bank supports a brick wall, surviving up to 2m high in places and believed to post-date the brick revetment around the moat. The modern bridge across the south east corner of the moat, which provides access to the island, replaces an earlier causeway which extended across the centre of the southern arm of the moat.

The manor is mentioned in 1232 as `Fyndegod(s)hurne' and in 1379 as `Herne'. By the late 14th century it was owned by Sir William Heron, who left the manor on his death to his daughter Margaret who was married to James Tyrell. The manor continued to be held by the Tyrells, an important Essex family, until at least the late 17th century. In the 16th century the messuage is recorded as including `100 acres of arable, 200 acres of pasture, 60 of wood and 40 of meadow'.

The local antiquarian, P Morant noted in 1769 that the manor house of Heron was `an old brick edifice surrounded with a moat, on the outer side of which stand four towers detached from the rest of the building'. The 1777 Chapman and Andre Map of Essex shows a square building built around a courtyard towards the south west corner of the island. It is recorded that this house was pulled down in 1790 leaving only two of the towers, and this statement is reinforced by the 1849 map of the parish of East Horndon, which depicts the island devoid of buildings. The bases of the towers are still visible along the outer edges of the island.

The present 18th century Heron Hall immediately to the west which succeeded the moated site is Listed Grade II. The Grade II* and II Listed barns immediately to the south and south west of the moat have the initials J.T., and some of these may be contemporary with the Tudor building on the island. The hall and barns are not included in the scheduling.

Three fishponds which were recorded in 1923 by The Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England to the west of the moat have been destroyed by modern landscaping and are therefore not included in the scheduling.

The wall on the bank to the north of the moat, the wooden bridge across the west arm of the moat and the modern brick wall and pathway to the west of the moat ditch, the peacock and goose houses and the fencing on the island, the concrete bridge across the south east corner of the moat and the associated gate are all excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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), 208-211
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, (1923), 38
Wright, T, History of Essex, (1832)
Sellers, E, 'Moated Sites Research Group' in Moated Sites Research Group, (1974)
Title: Map of the County of Essex Source Date: 1777 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Essex Record Office
Title: Map of the Survey of the parish of East Horndon Source Date: 1849 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Essex Record Office Ref: DDP P54


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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