Upton Cressett moat is a good example of a Shropshire moat with early buildings surviving in its interior. The moat is well-preserved and, together with the associated fishponds, retains considerable potential for the survival of undisturbed archaeological and environmental evidence.
Upton Cressett moat and fishponds are situated around Upton Cressett Hall, 2km south west of the village of Morville. The moated site is orientated north west to south east and has maximum dimensions of approximately 95m x 75m. Where the surrounding moat ditch survives as a visible earthwork, around the northern half of the site, it is up to 15m wide and between 2m and 3m deep The southern part of the ditch has been infilled and landscaped as a part of the house gardens. There is an outer retaining bank 1m high and 3m wide running the full length of the north west and part of the north east arm before it turns outwards towards low-lying land to the east. A raised platform, 1m above the surrounding ground level, covers much of the interior of the moat island, except in the south east quadrant where garden landscaping has lowered the platform in excess of 1m. Upton Cressett Hall, a Grade II-star listed building, which lies outside the area of the scheduling, occupies the north eastern area of the platform. Much of the house can be dated to between 1544 and 1580 although part of the interior is believed to be as early as 1388. On the north west side of the moat, in an area measuring 60m by 30m, lie two large depressions considered to be the location of former fishponds. The pond, each approximately 25m square, lie side by side and are surrounded by a bank up to 2m wide and 2.5m high. This bank also originally formed a dam across the stream which lies north of the moat. The stream and moat are supplied with water by springs located to the west of the site. (EH scheduling report 1991)
Tudor gatehouse. Diapered brickwork; stone mouldings; octagonal towers with pointed roofs at corners; centre archway. Small room on 1st floor has moulded plaster. Disused and very dilapidated. (Listed Building Report dated 1951. This was before an extensive, and well regarded, restoration in the late 1960s early 1970s which made the building an inhabited residence. The listing report is overdue for renewal.)
The Manor of Upton Cressett was once the ancient home of the de Upton and Cressett families. The Hall as it stands today was built in the sixteenth century and is the oldest dated house built entirely of brick in Shropshire.
The site of the Hall is ancient. It is recorded in the Domesday Book and in nearby fields there are the remains of a second century Roman settlement. The surrounding land is also the site of a deserted medieval village, traces of which remain as earthworks. A tiny Norman church, dedicated to St Michael, stands nearby and is maintained by the Redundant Churches Fund.
Parts of the Hall date to 1380 and are the remains of an earlier manor which belonged to the de Upton family. In the thirteenth century, the de Uptons were Verderers of the Royal Forest of Morfe and Knights and suitors to Holgate Castle, and the last of their line married into the Cressett family in the 14th century.
In the mid fifteenth century, Hugh Cressett, a Lancastrian, was a Royal Commissioner along the Welsh March, the Constable of Mortimer Castle and on the Duke of Exeter's Council. He also served as a Member of Parliament and as the Sheriff of Shropshire. His son Robert was a Yorkist lawyer who played an adventurous part in the Wars of the Roses. He is frequently mentioned in the Commissions of Array and was pardoned at the Devil's Parliament in December 1459 for rebellion after the Yorkists were defeated at Ludlow.
There is a long-standing tradition that the young Edward V, son of King Edward IV, and one of famed 'Princes in the Tower', stayed at the early manor in April 1483 on his fateful and hurried journey from Ludlow to the Tower of London. He had been anointed king at Ludlow Castle but for the coronation to be recognised he needed to be crowned in Westminster Abbey. The tradition is backed up by Cressett family reports. Hugh Cressett was well known to Edward IV and the remote position of the fortified manor of Upton Cressett made it an ideal safehouse. Upton Cressett is seventeen miles from Ludlow - exactly a day's march - and the royal party would have stayed at Upton Cressett before crossing the River Severn at Bridgnorth. (William Cash
The gatehouse has been restored since the LB report and is now available for luxury mini-breaks and private let. I am kindly inform
by William Cash that English Hertiage are currently (May 2012) reassessing the historic assets at Upton Cressett including the moat, gatehouse and Hall so that the schedule and LB reports should be renewed in the near future.