Heron Hall, East Horndon

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are earthwork remains

NameHeron Hall, East Horndon
Alternative NamesHerrons Hall; Finde-Fyndegode(s)hurne; Hern(e); Findgods Heron
Historic CountryEssex
Modern AuthorityEssex
1974 AuthorityEssex
Civil ParishHerongate and Ingrave

The moated site immediately east of Heron Hall is one of the best known examples of moated sites in Essex. The site, with its surviving brick revetting and tower bases together with its known historical background, illustrates the very grand and possibly defensive nature of the site and reflects the wealth and social standing of its inhabitants. The island remains largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to the development and character of the island throughout its periods of occupation. The buried silts in the base of the ditches will contain both artefacts relating to the period of occupation and environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which the monument is set.

The monument lies in an area where moated sites are fairly numerous, with a further moated site in Herongate, 750m to the SSW and another at Old Thorndon, 2.6km to the south west. Comparisons between these sites and others across the county, will provide valuable insights into the developments in the nature of settlement and society in the medieval period.

The monument includes a medieval moated site immediately east of Heron Hall and 1.2km north east of the village of Herongate.

The moated site includes a roughly rectangular island which measures a maximum of 88m north-south and approximately 80m east-west, raised about 1m above the surrounding ground surface. This island is contained by a water-filled moat or ditch measuring up to 18m wide and at least 2m deep and revetted in brick on both the inner and outer edges. An outer bank measuring a maximum of 20m wide and 1.5m high and thought to represent upcast from the ditch, is visible along the northern and eastern arms of the moat. The northern bank supports a brick wall, surviving up to 2m high in places and believed to post-date the brick revetment around the moat

The modern bridge across the south east corner of the moat, which provides access to the island, replaces an earlier causeway which extended across the centre of the southern arm of the moat.

The manor is mentioned in 1232 as 'Fyndegod(s)hurne' and in 1379 as 'Herne'. By the late 14th century it was owned by Sir William Heron, who left the manor on his death to his daughter Margaret who was married to James Tyrell. The manor continued to be held by the Tyrells, an important Essex family, until at least the late 17th century. In the 16th century the messuage is recorded as including '100 acres of arable, 200 acres of pasture, 60 of wood and 40 of meadow'.

The local antiquarian, P Morant noted in 1769 that the manor house of Heron was 'an old brick edifice surrounded with a moat, on the outer side of which stand four towers detached from the rest of the building'. The 1777 Chapman and Andre Map of Essex shows a square building built around a courtyard towards the south west corner of the island. It is recorded that this house was pulled down in 1790 leaving only two of the towers, and this statement is reinforced by the 1849 map of the parish of East Horndon, which depicts the island devoid of buildings. The bases of the towers are still visible along the outer edges of the island.

The present 18th century Heron Hall immediately to the west which succeeded the moated site is Listed Grade II. The Grade IIstar and II Listed barns immediately to the south and south west of the moat have the initials J.T., and some of these may be contemporary with the Tudor building on the island. The hall and barns are not included in the scheduling.

Three fishponds which were recorded in 1923 by The Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England to the west of the moat have been destroyed by modern landscaping and are therefore not included in the scheduling. (Scheduling Report)

Barns, Moat and Fish-Ponds at Heron Hall, 1½ m. N.N.E. of the church. The small Barn to the S. of the moat is of two storeys and of brick with a tiled roof. It was built in the 16th century and has window-openings with four-centred heads on both floors. The large Barn to the N.E. of the former is of the same materials. It is of ten bays with a porch on the E. and was built early in the 18th century. Built into the N. end of the W. wall are two stone gate-piers with moulded caps and bases.

The Moat is complete and surrounds a large and strongly defended site. On the E. side is a strong retaining bank and on the W. three small fish-ponds. About ¼ m. N.W. of the moat is a large area enclosed on three sides by a strong retaining bank and known as the Heron pond. A small stream runs through the middle.

Condition—Of barns and earthworks, good. (RCHME)

Heron Hall was the administrative centre of the manor of Herongate, which was located within East Horndon parish, although it was surrounded on three sides by Ingrave. It had belonged to the Heron family in the early fourteenth century, and passed by marriage to the Tyrell family in the mid fourteenth century. In 1363 the Tyrells were granted permission to empark 400 acres of pasture and wood in Thorndon and Ingrave. It is not known what the earliest medieval building on the site looked like. However 18th century engravings and antiquarian descriptions give some idea of the nature of the early 15th century building that replaced the original manorial complex (Ryan 1996).

The early 15th century Hall was an early example of brick building in Essex. It was a brick-built building with a central courtyard, sited in the south-west corner of the moated enclosure, a circular tower was sited on the corner of the main building, and there were a further three similar towers at each of the remaining corners of the moated platform. The entrance porch may have been a rectangular tower with two octagonal turrets at the corners. The house was pulled down in 1788. Outside the moat was a 15th century two-storeyed brick granary, which is still extant, and other farmyard buildings. To the west of the moat are three small fish-ponds. (Unlocking Essex's Past)

"An old brick edifice surrounded by a moat, on the outer side of the moat stand 4 towers detached from the rest of the building. The great part is as old as the time of King Henry VI or Edward IV" (Morant)

It was held by Sir Thomas Tyrell who was a feoffee and was paid an annuity by Oxford. He served under him at Stoke in 1487 and Blackheath in 1489 with 20 men. His father was slain at the battle of Barnet fighting for Oxford. Sir Thomas had an income of at least £129pa. Other members of his family were part of Oxford's affinity and a room in the new great tower the Earl built at Hedingham was reserved for probably Sir Robert Tyrell, an uncle

The house should not to be confused with the Hall at West Horndon which was held by Sir Richard FitzLewis, also a key member of Oxfords affinity. (Chas Hollwey)

Gatehouse Comments

It is difficult to see the reason for this strong moated site, an obvious strong courtyard house with corner towers, being overlooked by the usual castle studies authors although the RCHME description was not as full as, perhaps, the site deserves.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ640917
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  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 18n45
  • RCHME, 1923, An inventory of the historical monuments in Essex Vol. 4 (south-east) p. 38 online transcription
  • Wright, T., 1832, The history and topography of the county of Essex, comprising its ancient and modern history Vol. 2 p. 550 online copy
  • Morant, P., 1768, The history and antiquities of the county of Essex Vol. 1 p. 208


  • Sellers, E, 1974, Moated Sites Research Group Report


  • Chas Hollwey, 15 July 2016, pers corr.
  • Medlycott, Maria, 2001, Herongate and Ingrave. Historic Settlement Assessment