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Wivenhoe Hall

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Wyvenhoo; Wyuenhoo

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TM03862189
Latitude 51.85840° Longitude 0.95910°

Wivenhoe Hall has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are no visible remains.


The manor house, Wivenhoe Hall, built just north-west of the church c. 1530, had a tower gateway used as a sea mark in the 16th century. The house was described as decayed in 1594, and as having 15 hearths in 1662. In 1844 it was altered and rebuilt, the two-storeyed north wing, with walls of brick and plastered timber- framing and tiled roofs, being the only part remaining substantially unchanged. (J. Norden, Description of Essex (Camd. Soc. {1st ser. ix}, 39; E.R.O., Q/RTh 1, f. 19; Morant, Essex, ii. 188; R.C.H.M. Essex, iii. 234.) The building was sold for demolition in 1927. (Butler, Story of Wivenhoe, 228; E.R.O., sale cat. B7426.) A deer park was mentioned in 1475, apparently in the south-east of the parish. (E.R.O., D/DBm M507) (VCH)

Wivenhoe Hall nearly 1/4 m. N. of the church, is of two storeys. The walls are of brick and plastered timber-framing; the roofs are tiled. It was built c. 1530 but only the N. wing remains; the rest of the building includes some original work but was very much altered and rebuilt in 1844 (RCHME).
Wivenhoe Hall, when held by the Earls of Oxford prior to 1585, had a fine tower gateway, of considerable height which served as a sea mark. The hall was sold for demolition on 7 April 1927 (Sier).
Nothing remains standing of this building (F1 ASP 13-MAY-60). (PastScape)

The Hall (TM 0382 2181)
On the north-western side of the town, off High Street, stood Wivenhoe Hall. The hall was brick built and according to Morant, it was a 'large and elegant seat', which had 'a noble gatehouse with towers of great height, that served for a seamark', probably similar to the gatehouses at St Osyth and Layer Marney. The earliest part of the Hall dates to the 1530's, and it was probably rebuilt in brick following the restoration of the land to the Earl of Oxford by Henry VII. The hall was demolished in 1927. (Essex HER ref. Medlycott 1999)

Wivenhoe Hall (Plate, p. 234), nearly m. N. of the church, is of two storeys. The walls are of brick and plastered timber-framing; the roofs are tiled. It was built c. 1530 but only the N. wing remains; the rest of the building includes some original work but was very much altered and rebuilt in 1844. The N. wing has, at the E. and W. ends, original crow-stepped gables with pinnacles set diagonally; there is a second smaller but similar gable at the W. end; the stepped parapets are partly supported by trefoiled corbelling and each gable has a shallow niche with a doubletrefoiled head; flanking the niches of the main gables are small round-headed windows set in square sinkings. In the E. wall is a wide wall-arch with moulded jambs and four-centred head with a moulded label. There are also other original windows with square heads and moulded labels, but fitted with modern frames. Inside the building the N. wing has original moulded ceiling-beams and joists. The rest of the building retains a moulded ceiling-beam, part of an original doorway and a staircase incorporating some 16th-century material. Under the S. wing is an original cellar with a barrel-vaulted roof of brick.
Condition—Good, much altered. (RCHME 1922)

Parts of the Hall survived until the 1920s but the great gatehouse was long gone by then. It may have resembled a somewhat shorter and fatter Layer Marney Tower. These relatively late date, high status, large windowed, gatehouses fell outside the definition of 'fortified' that most C20 castelologists held but more recent writers, such as John Goodall, have considered these building to be part of the same architectural heritage.
The building may have been used as a navigational marker for coastal sea and river craft as it lies close to the tidal limit of the River Colne (which was probably a little higher upstream in the C16/C17 than the modern river).
Although the gatehouse was built by the Earl of Oxford it had not been a significant noble estate earlier and before it came to the Earl it had been a modest gentry manor house with no suggestion of any defensive feature not even the fairly ubiquitous moat common in Essex.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:30

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