Parsonage Farm moated site


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017469

Date first listed: 08-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Parsonage Farm moated site
© 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 - 1017469 .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 23-Jan-2019 at 20:48:19.


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

County: Essex

District: Uttlesford (District Authority)

Parish: Great Dunmow

National Grid Reference: TL 62645 23155


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 alterations to the monument, particularly the infilling of sections of the ditches and the construction of the patio to the north west, the major part of the moated site at Parsonage Farm has survived well with minimal disturbance. The buried fills of the ditch are preserved, containing artefacts related to the period of occupation as well as environmental evidence illustrating the appearance of the landscape in which it was set. The island will retain evidence of the layout of the original buildings, and provide valuable information regarding the date of construction, the evolution of the settlement through time, and the status and lifestyle of its inhabitants. Comparison of this site with other moated sites in the region may provide insights into the chronological and social variations suggested by differences in size, design and location.


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


The monument includes a small medieval moated site located on the eastern side of Parsonage Farm, on the tip of a broad spur to the north of Church End, Great Dunmow, which overlooks the valley of the River Chelmer to the north and east. The moated site is roughly sqaure in plan, the island measuring approximately 60m across and enclosed on all but the northern side by a broad ditch. The arms of the ditch average 12m in width and, having been largely infilled, rarely exceed 0.6m in depth. The western arm has been completely buried in recent years although its position is marked on maps dating from the 1970s and earlier. There is no indication of a northern arm on the tithe map of 1843, and it is thought that the pronounced outward facing scarp on this side of the island was the only form of demarcation. The island itself is raised marginally above its surroundings and its surface retains slight undulations which have been interpreted as indications of former structures. No buildings were shown on the island in 1843 and these buried features are considered to relate to the medieval use of the site, and to remain relatively undisturbed. The north eastern corner of the moat contains a small pond which, although recently cleared of modern debris, is not thought to penetrate to the floor of the original ditch. The north western corner has been partly disturbed by the construction of a modern patio, and is not included in the scheduling. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are a brick garden wall to the east of the patio and the timber supports for an adjacent arbour, 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: 31222

Legacy System: RSM


Antiquity Model, Ordnance Survey, TL 62 SW 16, (1975)
conversation with owner, Ramsay, I, Parsonage Moat Pond, (1996)
Gazetteer (with sketches) Essex SMR, Stokes, A H (Med.Settlements Research Group), TL 62-022, (1977)
RCHME, Inventory of Historic Monuments, Essex, (1916)
Title: Tithe Award Source Date: 1843 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Great Dunmow Award (Essex PRO)
Title: TL6223 Source Date: 1977 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1:2500 Map showing traces of E arm

End of official listing