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Willingale Doe

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Willingdale; Torrells Hall

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TL60030819
Latitude 51.74959° Longitude 0.31666°

Willingale Doe has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Small rectangular enclosure, with wide moat, 100 yards south, south west of Torrell's Hall. Further south are traces of a former ditch (TL 60050810); possibly remains of a small mount and bailey. The smaller moat is in good condition, while only fragments remain of the large moat or ditch. (RCHME). The site lies on a gentle south slope below Torrell's Hall. The water features comprise a small level moated island with further irregular drainage ponds and ditches to the south. The moat measures approximately 26.0m square with the central island 14.0m across. No trace of a structure was found within the enclosure. The feature has an ornamental appearance, and could well be contemporary with the 18th century extension of the hall. (Field Investigators Comments–F1 PAS 25-MAR-76) The island, which is near square and 1.5m high, and surrounding water filled ditch are ornamental garden features undoubtedly associated with the occupation of Torrell's Hall, although probable continuity of the axial symmetry of the garden layout throughout the various alterations to the house make their dating uncertain. Farmyard constructions and encroachment of agricultural land, particularly to the N and W may have destroyed evidence of a more extensive layout of which these features form a part; amorphous scarps in the lawned area to the E maintaining the symmetry of these features suggests the ornamental garden area was formerly more extensive than at present. The irregular ponds and ditches around the site, now function as drainage and outfall ditches and in their present form would not suggest any functional connection or symmetry of layout with the moated island, and are most probably agricultural in origin. The site is heavily overgrown and is currently being used as a farmyard dump. (Field Investigators Comments–F2 SA 27-JUL-88)

King recorded this site as 'possible' usually meaning doubtful and the supposed mount and bailey recorded by an early RCHME survey may well be C18 garden earthworks (presumably moated low propect mound with square formal garden to south). The moat possibly represents a precursor site to Torrells Hall, although the Essex SMR record writes the island is too small for a residential building and considers it to be the site of an associated building such as a lodge or dove cot with the present day Hall of C16 date overlying the medieval hall (slight excavation near the house did not locate medieval features.)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:31

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