Moated site known as Franklin's Island


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017002

Date first listed: 24-Nov-1999


Ordnance survey map of Moated site known as Franklin's Island
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1017002 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 17-Jan-2019 at 16:55:24.


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

County: Essex

District: Chelmsford (District Authority)

Parish: Highwood

National Grid Reference: TL 64789 04039


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.

Despite some infilling of the south eastern arm the moated site known as Franklin's Island survives well. The island is largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to its former use. 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 moated site was set. Although comparatively small, its size and simplicity of design may reflect a specialised use, such as implied by the documentary evidence, setting and surface finds. If it was indeed the site of the park lodge, as seems probable, the monument may well retain significant information regarding the park management and duration of use.

Franklin's Island lies in an area where moated sites are relatively numerous, enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. Further moated sites are situated at Fithlers Hall Farm, Willingale, 1.1km to the west, at Wards Farm, 1.25km to the west, at Moor Hall, 2.4km to the north and the royal hunting lodge at King John's Palace, 4km 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.


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site known as Franklin's Island which is located towards the northern boundary of Writtle Park, 250m to the north west of Writtle Park Farm and 490m to the north west of Writtle Park House.

The moated site includes a rectangular island measuring approximately 26m north west-south east by a maximum of 18m north east-south west. The island is contained by a dry moat or ditch which measures approximately 8m wide and between 1.5m and 2m deep. A modern causeway crosses the south western arm of the moat. The south eastern arm has been infilled although it survives as a buried feature.

The moated site, which is marked as Franklin's Island on the 1874 1st edition 25 inch Ordnance Survey map, is situated on the extreme northern boundary of Writtle Park. The manor of Writtle was an important royal demesne estate dating from before the Norman Conquest. Writtle Deer Park is first mentioned in 1200 and in 1280 Richard Bruis, the owner, was given eight doe and four buck from Hatfield Forest by Edward I as breeding stock. Oliver Rackham in his research on deer parks found that nearly all parks had a lodge, often with a viewing tower, which was sited on high ground to provide views over much of the park. The moated site of Franklin's Island, which occurs on the Writtle Estate maps of 1783 and 1841 and the 1843 Tithe map, occupies just such a position on one of the highest points in Writtle Park. In their 1993 Historic Landscape Survey of Writtle Park, D E and N R Bannister uncovered The Manor of Writtle Court Roll of 1406-7 which records an agreement with a tiler to repair all the defects in certain buildings on the estate, including the lodge in Writtle Park. Medieval tile and pottery has been recovered from the island and is also evident in the margin of the cultivated fields surrounding the site. It is therefore considered highly probable that Franklin's Island represents the site of the park keeper's lodge.

As prominent features of the park landscape, lodges were deliberately sited to impress visitors approaching the house. This may be evident at Writtle Park as the 1783 Estate map shows the northern entrance to Writtle Park from Edney Common extending past the south east side of Franklin's Island before linking up with the main southern entrance immediately to the south of the main house.

A modern field drain visible in the northern corner of the moat ditch, is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 33259

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Rackham, O, The Last Forest: The Story of Hatfield Forest, (1989)
Essex Record Office: E/WR1, Bannister, N R, Bannister, D E, Historic Landscape Survey of Writtle Forest and Park, (1993)
NMR: TL 60 SW 9, RCHM, (1975)
Title: 1st Edition 25" Ordnance Survey Map Source Date: 1874 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Essex Record Office: 52/9
Title: Estate Map of Writtle Source Date: 1783 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Essex Record Office: D/DP P35
Title: Plan of the Estates of Writtle and Roxwell Source Date: 1841 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Essex Record Office: D/DP P113
Title: Tithe Map of Writtle Source Date: 1843 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Essex Record Office: D/CT 414

End of official listing