Soulton moated site and formal garden remains


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


Ordnance survey map of Soulton moated site and formal garden remains
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2020 at 12:07:52.


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

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Wem Rural
National Grid Reference:
SJ 54483 30242, SJ 54568 30367

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.

Soulton moated site and the formal garden associated with Soulton Hall survive well despite some disturbance from road building and the construction of Cedar House.

The moated site is of an unusual type. Circular and sub-circular moats are relatively uncommon nationally, and its form may indicate it is an early example. The moated island, which is thought to have been modified during the creation of the formal gardens, will retain structural and artefactual evidence of the buildings that once stood on the site. These structural elements, together with the artefacts and organic remains existing in the moat will provide valuable evidence about the occupation and social status of the inhabitants. Organic remains surviving in the buried ground surface under the raised interior and within the moat will provide information about the changes to the local environment and use of the land before and after the moated site was constructed. The importance of the site is enhanced by documentary sources which provide ownership information.

Formal gardens dating from the early 16th century onwards were created around many large country houses, although the majority have been substantially modified in recent centuries. Within this garden, the earthworks would suggest that the buried remains of walkways, parterres and other ornamental features have survived, together with the evidence of planting schemes. These remains will provide important information about the functional and artistic development of gardening and landscape design in the 17th and 18th centuries.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval moated site and a post-medieval formal garden within two separate areas of protection.

The moated site is considered to be the centre of the manor of Soulton. In the Domesday survey the manor was recorded as belonging to St Michael's Chapel in Shrewsbury Castle. Records dating to the second half of the 13th century indicate that by that time the manor was being leased to Robert Corbet. In the 16th century it had been bought by Sir Rowland Hill, which probably led to the building of a new residence, known as Soulton Hall, 200m to the south west of the moated site. This house was sizably enlarged in the third quarter of the 17th century and is partly surrounded by a walled garden. The hall and the 17th century garden walls are Listed Grade II* and are not included in the scheduling.

The moated site is situated on the western edge of the flood plain of Soulton Brook, at the base of a gentle east facing slope. An oval shaped moat, well preserved to the north and west (averaging 18m wide), but less evident around the rest of its circuit, surrounds a rectangular island. The island is an unusual construction, displaying a well defined stepped profile on all sides, which is believed to be the result of of its later use as part of the post-medieval formal garden. The lower step averages 1.2m in height and the upper step is about 0.8m high. The upper portion raises the height of the moated island above the level of the surrounding ground to the west. The top of the island measures approximately 18m east-west by 22m north-south. On the top there are a series of slight scarps, which relate to the building or buildings that once occupied the site. Crossing the western moat arm are the slight remains of a causeway.

In the second area of protection opposite the moat, and to the east of the 17th century walled garden of Soulton Hall, lie the earthwork remains of a formal garden consisting of a series of well defined terraces and raised areas, including a rectangular building platform measuring 16m by 11m. These earthworks follow the same alignment as Soulton Hall and the walled garden and are believed to be of the same date. It is apparent that the gardens were laid out in relation to the moated site and to provide an impressive formal setting for Soulton Hall.

The spring in the north eastern part of the garden is contained and surrounded by walls of red sandstone blocks and covered by a red sandstone slab. The complex of garden earthworks opposite the walled garden continues to the north of the modern road, incorporating and utilising the existing moated site. A series of shallow channels connect with and radiate out from the northern half of the moat, some of which also connect with the ditches which now define the western and northern boundaries of the field. An associated linear depression to the north of the moat appears to be the remains of a pond. There are slight traces of terraces on the sloping ground to the west of the moated site.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling, these are: all modern field boundaries, fences and gates, the water trough and fodder container, the pump house and a disused section of water pipe, (above ground and encased in brick and concrete); the ground beneath all these features is, however, included in the scheduling.

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
'Transactions of Shropshire Archaeological Society 3rd Series' in Transactions of Shropshire Archaeological Society 3rd Series, , Vol. 4, (1904), XIX
Woodward, I, (1952)


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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