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The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
 
 
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Stanstead Hall, Halstead

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Stanstede; Stansted

In the civil parish of Greenstead Green and Halstead Rural.
In the historic county of Essex.
Modern Authority of Essex.
1974 county of Essex.
Medieval County of Essex.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL827288
Latitude 51.92848° Longitude 0.65577°

Stanstead Hall, Halstead has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are no visible remains.

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.

Description

The mansion is a mile and a half south-east from the church. In 1553, a survey was taken of this noble baronial seat, which describes it as a quadrangular building of brick, inclosing a court, and surrounded by a moat forty-four poles in circumference. The gate-house was on the southern front, two stories high, embattled; flanked with large projecting turrets. On one side was the porter's lodge, and on the other the dungeon, or prison, underground. The court, on the east, had five rooms on the ground floor, and six above, having, in each, two fire-places. A large chapel formed the north side of the court. The whole building was of great extent, and surrounded by a park, four miles in circumference, extending to the parsonage bridge, at Halstead, and containing seven hundred and eighty-seven acres of land. It would support five hundred deer, forty horses, and twelve cows; and had, at the time of the survey, a thousand deer. It had also several large ponds and a pool, the fishery of which was then valued at £10 a year: there were also growing in this park, three thousand, six hundred and twenty oaks, of a hundred years' growth, and one hundred ashes, all timber. Nothing now remains of the ancient building, except some part of the kitchen and offices, converted into a farm-house. (Wright, 1836)

Stanstead Hall has an outstanding C16 N front and E wing, both built of brick with stone dressing. The chapel remains lie to the S of the house, the surviving walls, of coursed flint rubble, appear to represent the remains of the chancel with two angular buttresses and the possible stub of the nave walls. It measures overall 45.0m E-W by 30.0m transversely, with walling 1.1m wide by 0.8m high, but no trace of stone dressing survives.The hall and chapel are surrounded by a sub-rectangular moat situated on level ground and fed by a spring. It measures overall 125.0m N-S by 110.0m transversely, with arms averaging 10.0m wide. A bank 1.3m high runs along the outside of the western arm terminating in a ruined C16 brick tower situated at the NW angle. This measures 8.0m square by 2.0m high with a wall, also of C16 brick, extending along the N arm. See photograph. Parts of the moat are also revetted with brick, together with the remains of the former bridge (now a causeway) across the E arm. All these features have an ornamental appearance contemporary with the hall and are not considered defensive. Later entrances cross close to the NE and SE angles and also the west arm. The NW angle of the moat has been enlarged into an ornamental pond. (PastScape–ref. Field Investigators Comments–F1 PAS 27-AUG-76)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1341 June 3 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

Comments

This seems to be the location of the 'mansum' for which Robertus Bourghchier was granted a licence to crenellate in 1341. Parker mislocated this as Stansted Hall, Stansted Mountfitchet. Unfortunately earlier versions of the Gatehouse website (before Jan 2011) repeated that error.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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