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HER Number (PRN):01184
Name:Woodhouse moated friary of Hopton Wafers
Type of Record:Monument
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1010372: Woodhouse moated friary

Monument Types


Scheduled Monument: The site of one of the earliest (it was founded in 1250), and one of the most rural, of England's Augustinian friaries, Woodhouse is also reputed to have been for a time the home of William Langland, the author of Piers Plowman.

Parish:Hopton Wafers, South Shropshire, Shropshire
Map Sheet:SO67NW
Grid Reference:SO 6469 7719

Related records

00940Related to: Woodhouse deserted medieval settlement (Monument)

Associated Finds: None recorded

Associated Events

  • ESA1611 - 1968 field observation by the Ordnance Survey
  • ESA1612 - 1978 field observation
  • ESA1613 - 1979 field observation by Shropshire County Council
  • ESA1614 - 1980 field observation by Shropshire County Council


The hermitage of Woodhouse was one of the two earliest English foundations of the friars hermits of St Augustine. It certainly existed by 1250. Woodhouse was one of the few houses to remain in an isolated position after the union and reorganisation of the order in 1256. By the Dissolution in 1538 the estate comprised c 50 acres, mainly pasture and woodland. The community was always small, with an estimated number of 7 friars in the late C13. Local tradition that William Langland, author of Piers Plowman was either a member of the community or received his early education there. In the early C19 an old moated house with the remains of a chapel was used as a farmhouse <3a><3ai>
The house was evidently rebuilt in the mid C19 and no medieval features were visible externally in 1969 <3>

The site lies on gentle undulating SE tending slope, with a small stream running east, across which are three much eroded fishpond dams. The moat is much landscaped on the SE side where it lies in the formal garden of the house, and it has clearly been much wider here. On the SW mostly filled in, but w arm still visible as a depression in the farmyard. the S part of the site occupied by stone and brick farm buildings and the present mid C19 farmhouse. The N part of the site much better preserved. The N arm of the moat still water filled and connected to a pond on the N, with an island marking the outer edge of the original moat. Extant in 1903 acc OS 1903 25in map <5>

When the site was visited in 1980 it was found that a double tennis court had been constructed in the old orchard to the rear (N) of the house, that is, within the moated site. The excavated material had bee spread over the rest of the area within the moat and re-seeded with grass <6>

Evaluated for MPP in 1990-1: Medium score as one of 133 Moated sites; Medium score as one of 52 Fishponds; one of less than 10 Friaries <8>

Scheduled in 1992. Scheduling description: ->

-> The moated friary at Woodhouse lies 1.2km to the NE of the village of Hopton Wafers. The moat is trapezoidal shaped and measures 115m N/S, 110m wide at the S end, and approximately 65m at the narrower northern end. The moat arms are identifiable except in the south west corner where they have been infilled and in the north where the ditch has been enlarged to form a pond. The modern causeway on the southern side is believed to be located in the position of the original entrance. ->

->The moat island is known to be the location of the Austin Friary founded in the 13th century. At present the site is occupied by a farmhouse and several outbuildings believed to have C17 origins. The farm buildings at the southern end of the site stand upon a substantial platform up to 1m high. The island also contains a deep stone lined well, gardens and a tennis court. The Austin Friary of Woodhouse is recorded as being one of the two earliest English foundations of the friar hermits of St Augustine. The settlement was founded in 1250 with gifts from local families. It was unusual in that it chose to remain remote, unlike most friaries which became established in towns after 1256. In the late 13th century the friary had seven friars. It is also thought likely that William Langland, author of Piers Plowman, was at one time a resident at Woodhouse. By the time of the Dissolution records show that the estate of Woodhouse comprised 50 acres of pasture and woodland; it was sold in 1554.->

-> The main farmhouse with cellars, and the well in the courtyard north east of the farmhouse are totally excluded from the scheduling. All other buildings and outbuildings are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground below these buildings is included. ->

-> The Austin Friary of Hopton Wafers is one of the earliest English foundations of the Augustinians. It represents one of the more unusual rural settlements. The moated friary is well-preserved and retains considerable potential for the survival of archaeological evidence within its interior. <9>

Photographed during aerial survey in 2008 and 2010. <10><11>


[00]SSA20722 - Card index: Shropshire County Council SMR. Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards. SMR record cards. SMR Card for PRN SA 01184.
[01]SSA3381 - Card index: Ordnance Survey. 1968. Ordnance Survey Record Card SO67NW16. Ordnance Survey record cards. SO67NW16.
[01b]SSA359 - Monograph: Knowles D & Hadcock N. 1953. Medieval Religious Houses of England and Wales. p202.
[01a]SSA4765 - Measured survey drawing: Ordnance Survey. 1979. Survey of Fishpond Dam.
[02]SSA1022 - Volume: Anon. 1961/ 1964. Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society. Transactions Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Vol 57. p224-230.
[03a]SSA4762 - Article in serial: Perfect L C. 1957/ 1960. Article in the Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society. Trans Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Vol 56. p144.
[03ai]SSA4763 - Article in serial: Owen. Article in Augustiniana. Augustiniana. Vol 17. p88-89.
[03]SSA540 - Volume: Gaydon A T (ed). 1973. Victoria County History 2: Ecclesiastical Organisation, Religious Houses, Schools and Sports. Victoria County History of Shropshire. Vol 2. p97-98.
[04]SSA4768 - Field recording form: Hewitt P B. 1978-Sep-16. Site Visit Form, 16/09/1978. SMR site visit form.
[05]SSA4767 - Field recording form: Burrow Ian. 1979-Jan-05. Site Visit Form, 05/01/1979. SMR site visit form.
[06]SSA4769 - Field recording form: Tyler Alan W. 1980-May-20. Site Visit Form, 20/05/1980. SMR site visit form.
[07]SSA4764 - Photograph: Tyler Alan W. 1980-May. Woodhouse, Hopton Wafers. Black and white. 35mm.
[08]SSA20084 - TEXT: Horton Wendy B. 1990/ 1991. MPP Evaluation File.
[09]SSA4766 - Scheduled Monument notification: English Heritage. 1992. Scheduling Papers (New Scheduling, 20/07/1992). 13682.
[10]SSA25324 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2008-Jul-26. SA0811_071 (1 photo) Flight: 08_SA_11. Colour. Digital.
[11]SSA25995 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2010-Mar-8. SA1005_203 to SA1005_208 (6 photos) Flight: 10_SA_05. Colour. Digital.
Date Last Edited:Jun 21 2018 3:48PM