Rye House, Stanstead Abbots

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are major building remains

NameRye House, Stanstead Abbots
Alternative Names
Historic CountryHertfordshire
Modern AuthorityHertfordshire
1974 AuthorityHertfordshire
Civil ParishStanstead Abbots

Rye House moated enclosure is considered to be one of the finest medieval moated sites in Hertfordshire. The monument survives in very good condition and displays an outstanding range of features including the remains of a fine 16th century gatehouse. The site has exceptional potential for the preservation of both wet and dry remains including the undisturbed remains of the original castle. The significance of the monument is considerably increased by the wide range of historical documentation relating to the site.

The monument includes the well-preserved remains of a medieval moat and two-storeyed gatehouse located on the east bank of the River Lee. The moated enclosure measures some 90 metres by 75 metres including the surrounding water filled ditch which measures about 6 metres across. A broad leat connects the moat to the river, with a further small leat leading into the moat from the north. Entrance to the site is provided by a causeway on the south side which is flanked by two twisted brick pillars which are re-erected late medieval chimneys and are included within the scheduling. The interior is dominated by the 16th century brick built gatehouse belonging to the castle. The gatehouse is located on the east side of the island and must have been reached by an earlier bridge than presently crosses the moat at this point. It is decorated with cut brick details, castellated parapets and twisted chimneys and is a Listed building grade I as well as being included within the scheduling. Also visible on the southern side of the island are two sections of wall which are the surviving remains of the castle which has recently been partially marked out in modern brick although no excavations are believed to have been undertaken at the site. The standing ruins are included within the scheduling. Historical records date from the 15th century when the site was licensed to Andrew Ogard in 1440 in order to build a castle

(Scheduling Report)

Site of a C15 fortified manor house. The gatehouse, moat, two stretches of walling and two chimneys survive. The house was built circa 1443 and in 1683 was the scene of the Rye House Plot to murder Charles II. It had been converted for use as the parish workhouse by 1834. Circa 1868, Henry Teale developed the site as a pleasure garden, turning the moat into an ornamental feature. The gatehouse is a fine example of early brick construction, with a number of significant features including the very early use of moulded bricks. It is a two storey structure, now roofless, with a museum on the ground floor. The two stretches of rubble walling stand on the inner side of the moat, to the west and south east of the gatehouse. They presumably formed part of C15 house and were repositioned circa 1868. The two brick chimneys currently act as gateposts and were probably repositioned at the same time as the walls. The spiral, fluted chimneys are about 3m high and stand to the south of the gatehouse. (PastScape)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTL385099
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  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 352-3, 370
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 47
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 289
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 106
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 221
  • Renn, D.F., 1971, Medieval Castles in Hertfordshire (Chichester: Phillimore) p. 18-20 (plan)
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1912, 'Parishes: Stanstead Abbots' VCH Hertfordshire Vol. 3 p. 366-73 online transcription
  • RCHME, 1910, An inventory of the historical monuments in Hertfordshire (London: HMSO) p. 210-11 no. 3 online transcription
  • Andrews, R.T., 1905, in Standing, Memorials of Old Hertfordshire (London) p. 137-47 online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 133-4 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 148 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 281 online copy
  • Grose, Francis, 1785 (new edn orig 1756), Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 2 p. 244-6 online copy


  • Smith, T.P., 1975, 'Rye House, Hertfordshire, and Aspects of Early Brickwork in England' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 132 p. 111-150 (plan)
  • Andrews, R.T., 1902, 'Rye House Castle and Manor of Rye' Transactions of the East Hertfordshire Archaeological Society Vol. 2.1 p. 32-45, 88-89

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1927, Calendar of Charter Rolls 5 Henry VI - 8 Henry VIII, AD 1427-1516, with an appendix, 1215-1288 Vol. 6. (HMSO) p. 38 online copy