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Manhale

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Manhall, Emanuel Wood, Emmanuel Wood, Paddocks Wood

In the civil parish of Little Chesterford.
In the historic county of Essex.
Modern Authority of Essex.
1974 county of Essex.
Medieval County of Essex.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL53004154
Latitude 52.05132° Longitude 0.23012°

Manhale has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are uncertain remains.

Description

'Manhale' was licensed as a castle in 1259; something may have come of this. (King 1983)

Moat, excavated by Chesterford Park Archaeological Society.
Homestead moat 2 miles east of the church. Irregular in form and fairly well preserved. Uneven surface within, may indicate foundations (RCHME 1916).
An irregular, part waterfilled homestead moat fed by surface drainage, measuring 68m east-west x 64m north-south. The arms average 8m wide x 1.5m deep. A central ditch part bisects the site, thought to be later than the moat. Documentary research indicates that, from Domesday to c1600, the surrounding lands were within the manor of Manhall. It is thought that the manor house was at TL 531416 (old sheet TL 54-027, new sheet 4768). In 1257 Richard, Earl of Gloucester, was granted a licence to build a castle on his land at Manhall. The excavators believe the castle may have been here, in Paddock Wood. The excavation uncovered the remains of a 'crude stone wall' within the enclosed area, identified as part of the 'main structure'. Finds: thousands of potsherds, medieval, including early green glazed ware, metal finds (nails, horseshoes etc), 3 pieces of 'ornate bronze with gilt overlay' (awaiting BM classification) (OS Record 1977).
Excavation by amateur group with professional guidance. Excavations were limited owing to the dense tree growth. Excavations began in late 1970. Due to the nature of the site foundations of the anticipated building were not located until early 1975. Work on the site had ceased in 1976 but continuation was assumed for 1977. Excavation was within the roughly triangular moat. From 2 adjacent points on the moat a network of enclosures radiates, covering almost the whole eastern part of the moat, c120 sq m in extent, 'yet' to be fully surveyed. A rectangular pond at TL 53604305 is thought to be associated. A further shallow ditches cuts across the main moated enclosure. The enclosure and ditch were surveyed in plan only. The building is 'now' thought to have stood in the south-east corner of the site close to the moat's inner lip. Foundations of rough, assorted, unworked stone were located. Preliminary section of the main moat indicates a possible recutting process. Iron finds: nails, horseshoes, door latch, hinge pivot pin, knife blade with silver damascene initial (from X ray), a socketed arrowhead. Bronze finds: a small wire ring, 3 pieces of decorative work with gilt overlay (thought to be Saxon-not so). The latter consisted of: a buckle, a strap hanger with rivets, a probable strap embellishment with a zoomorphic pattern. Pottery: late 13th-14th century, much in grey fabrics, glazes green, brown and cream. A small amount of St Neot's ware was found (Smith and Bossom 1977).
Supposedly Saxon finds assessed as medieval by W T Jones '13th century seems to be about their date'.
Arrowhead, buckle and a small metal bead were found in very close association with 13th century, probably, pottery. Depth of finds was consistent with the general occupation strata (pottery 13th-14th centuries). Strap hanger found in general occupation layer-some 9m away. Potsherds of the general date were in association. The brooch was also in association with the general pottery-it is a brooch or belt embellishment. Pieces are all bronze with gilt overlay-one set for a bridle or a belt? The knife blade was found in the lower silts of the moat section. No associated finds but it is probably medieval.
This site may be linked to the one in Bassingbourne Wood.
Finds published in Essex Archaeology and History, including drawings. Gilt bronze buckle and buckle plate, zoomorphic bronze buckle or belt embellishment, strap hanger. Also: a bronze ring, a bronze bead or button, an iron arrowhead, iron knife. Knife not closely dated within the medieval period. Arrowhead is pre conquest to 13th century (Couchman 1980). (Unlocking Essex's Past 4757 - Paddock Wood)

A series of humps and bumps, with a very large spread of pottery fragments and rubble found in the Emmanuel Wood, Four Acre Grove area (area indicated on a map in this source). Area covered is approx 1 quarter mile square from "a very large occupational site". Finds identified by Barry Hooper as medieval, with some Roman finds (see 4769). There is documentary information which connects Emmanuel Wood with the ancient manor of Manhall. "Although conjecture at this stage it would seem that the medieval sites around this area are all connected with the Manor of Manhall" (see 4757, 4758). This site may be the location of a castle built in the 13th century at or near Manhall The Manor house of Manhall Manor "was almost certainly in the area of the present Emmanuel Wood and Four Acre Grove". This became disused and fell into disrepair during the 17th century. A new house was built elsewhere (see 4770). Before Domesday and the conquest the manor was held by Siward. In 1086 it was held by Alan of Brittany and Geoffrey de Mandeville (with Siward as tenant). The de Mandeville connection becomes confused but in 1199 it was given by King Steven to St Edmund's Abbey. It was held by the Abbot of Walden Abbey. In 1257 it was given to Richard, Earl of Gloucester (not clear if as owner or tenant) who built a castle on his land in Manhall (this may be the site at Paddock Wood (see 4757). In the 16th century the manor became part of the Audley End estate and it remained in the family of the Earls of Suffolk until 1793 (later history in this source).
The placename Manhall is mentioned in 1086 and after.
A charter in Saffron Walden Library indicates that Siward's family were given back lands (presumably Manhall too) by the descendants of Geoffrey de Mandeville who took from Siward c1086.
A deserted moat has been located on a map of c1800 in the ERO. When the site was cleared and levelled c25yrs ago a tiled floor was disturbed by ploughing. F Weightman and F Gomm found a deep hollow around a slight mound c36 x 32ft, and a spread of debris, RB bricks, flints, dressed stone. There was evidence of destruction by fire. RB, medieval and later sherds were collected An adjacent field is called Wardcroft.
Medieval pottery was found by by the Chesterford Park Archaeological Society. Surface finds had also been collected in 1968 and they are in Saffron Walden Museum.
Sherds 12th- 13th century. Fragments of roof tile with traces of glaze (?), fragments of shelly limestone marked by fire. Collected by Sellers from ploughed site of Manhall, 13th century castle and moated manor. Some finds in Colchester Museum. (Unlocking Essex's Past 4768 - Emmanuel Wood)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1259 Nov 7 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

Comments

The manor was in the area of Chesterford Park and two sites are given as a possible location for this castle. The existing triangular moat in Paddocks Wood at TL53704295, the subject of an amateur excavation in the 1970's (NMRN-374302, SMRN-4757) or a 'moat leveled by ploughing' in Emanuel Wood at TL53004154 (NMRN-374293, SMRN-4768). There does not appear to be any remains of an associated village and Gatehouse can find little to differentiate the two sites as the possible location of the C13 castle. However, the Emanuel Wood site, although more damaged, does appear to be larger and on this bases Gatehouse slightly favour this as the site of the house of Richard de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford.
This is a rare example where the term 'castle' was used within the licence, however there is nothing to suggest The earl intended to build anything other than a moated house, the term probably merely reflects the usually high status (in terms of the normal standing of licence grantees) of Richard.
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This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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