Moated site, Park Hall mansion and an associated cockpit 320m and 325m south east of Lower Court


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019201

Date first listed: 07-Jun-2000


Ordnance survey map of Moated site, Park Hall mansion and an associated cockpit 320m and 325m south east of Lower Court
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Bitterley

National Grid Reference: SO 56319 77267, SO 56366 77337


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.

The moated site, Park Hall mansion and associated cockpit 320m and 325m south east of Lower Court survive as well-preserved examples of their classes of monument, despite subsequent partial alteration to the form of the moat. In addition to the remains of Park Hall, the moated island will retain structural and artefactual evidence of earlier buildings. The remains of all these structures 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 surfaces under the raised interior and the external bank, and within the moat, will also provide information about the changes to the local environment and the use of the land before and after the moated site was constructed. Cockpits were constructed during the medieval and post-medieval period as places of entertainment for the higher sections of society. Cockfighting was made illegal in 1849. The cockpit in Bitterley, which is understood to be one of only two identified in Shropshire, survives well. The association between the post-medieval house and the cockpit provides further evidence for the lifestyle of the occupants of Park Hall.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval moated site, the remains of a post-medieval mansion, known as Park Hall, and an associated post-medieval cockpit, which are within two areas of protection. The moated site was constructed on a north west facing slope. Three of the four moat arms survive as visible earthworks and each are between 9m and 16m wide. The northern parts of the eastern and western arms together with the northern arm have been infilled but will survive as a buried feature. The western arm is bisected by the collapsed remains of a former stone field wall of 18th or early 19th century date. The southern arm and the adjoining part of the eastern arm are both waterlogged. The moat defines a rectangular island approximately 33m east-west and 45m north-south. Material excavated from the moat has been used to raise the level of the western half of island by up to 0.8m in order to create a level platform. Additional material from the moat has been deposited next to the western arm to form an external bank 5m wide and up to 0.4m high. On the northern side of the island in a central position are the remains of Park Hall, a brick-built mansion, considered from its architectural features to date from the early 17th century. It collapsed in the mid-20th century and now survives as a rubble mound. The earliest large scale Ordnance Survey map (published in 1885), together with articles and photographs of the building produced around 1920, indicate that it was a rectangular structure with projecting bays to the south west and north east. It was of two storeys with an attic room in the projecting bay to the south west. Mullions and transomes defined window lights and were made of moulded bricks, as were the copings to the crow-stepped gables. There was apparently an octagonal stair turret with a conical roof in the north west angle. A contemporary brick-built wall, of which the lower courses remain, survives to the north of the house site. This wall overlies the scarp defining the north western side of the moated island. Documentary sources indicate that the house was occupied by churchwardens from Bitterley parish church during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Sixty metres north east of Park Hall and protected within the second area, close to the road that runs through Bitterley village, are the remains of a cockpit - a structure where cockfighting took place. It is situated on level ground and survives as a slighty oval mound 9m by 10m across and up to 0.7m high, with a depression 3.3m by 4m in the centre. Stone and brick were used in its construction indicating that it was probably built at the same time as Park Hall. The cockpit is included in the scheduling to preserve the relationship between it and the post-medieval house. All fence posts, the stone wall bisecting the western arm of the moat, a modern garden wall, a cast iron water pump, and an electicity pole are 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. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 33804

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Burton, P J R, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Natural History Society' in Park Hall, Bitterley, (1921), 143-46
Forrest, H E, 'Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society 4th Series' in Some Old Shropshire Houses And Their Owners, , Vol. 11, (1928), 86-87
County Series map 1:2500, (1885)

End of official listing