Copped Hall Trust Archaeological
Field Schools 2017
years of excavation tracing the development of a Tudor grand-house from medieval beginnings at
Copped Hall on the edge of Epping Forest, Essex
Photographs and Notes on the 2014 Digging Season
Saturday 12th to Wednesday 16th August
Saturday 26th to Wednesday 30th August
The name of Copped Hall first appears in a document
of 1258 but the family named in the document, the Fitzauchers, who were the King’s huntsmen,
had been granted land in the vicinity in 1165. Waltham
Abbey bought the Hall in 1350 and held it until 1534, when it passed to the Crown.
Mary Tudor (the future Queen Mary) lived
here and celebrated the Catholic mass under her Protestant brother’s rule. Queen Elizabeth I
granted the manor to her Chancellor, Sir Thomas Heneage, in 1564, who immediately started
rebuilding it to create a Tudor grand-house. Shakespeare’s A
Midsummer Night’s Dream may have had its first performance at Heneage’s wedding festivities
here in 1594. Later it was home to Lionel Cranfield, a Lord High Treasurer of England under James I
who was condemned by Parliament for ‘bribery, extortion, oppression and other grievous
misdemeanours’. But the Tudor grand-house – save for some ‘romantic ruins’ – was demolished in
the mid-18th century and replaced by a new mansion 250 metres to the south-east. This in turn
was gutted by fire in 1917 and stood ruinous for much of the 20th century. In 1995, the Copped
Hall Trust succeeded in saving what remained of this mansion and its gardens from the attentions
of a variety of developers, authorities and vandals and has since been working to restore them to
their original condition.
The Copped Hall Trust Archaeological Project (CHTAP) was
set up, with the support of the West Essex Archaeological Group (WEAG), to investigate the remains
of the Tudor grand-house. In previous seasons, an intriguing sequence of brick walls and other
features (including the foundations of a magnificent dovecote) overlain by the landscaped gardens
of the mid-18th century mansion have been uncovered. In 2014 and 2015 work started on identifying details of some of the
garden parterres and paths; in 2016 work continued on investigating foundations outside the South-West
areas of the mansion. Work will continue in this area during 2017, to see if we can start to understand
the sequence and purpose of these features that do not appear on any of the house plans.
Two 5-day Field Schools running
from Saturday to Wednesday, for people already familiar with the basic techniques of Archaeological
excavation and recording, will start on 12th and 26th August 2017. A
small number of places may be available for those who have attended one of the ‘Taster Weekends’
but priority will be given to (1) diggers from other sites who are keen to develop their existing
skills under expert supervision and (2) those returning to Copped Hall from previous years’ digs. No
formal teaching sessions are planned for the Field Schools. Our aim is to involve students as
fully as possible in further excavating, examining, recording and interpreting the remains of
the brick-built mansion and associated features and structures which are being
revealed on the site.
Supervision will be given by professional archaeologists
assisted by highly experienced volunteers. All of
these know the site very well. The directors will be Christina Holloway and Lee Joyce. Attendance certificates will be awarded at
the end of the course.
The cost will be 100 GB Pounds for each week (WEAG members 80 GB Pounds). Students are
welcome to book for either or both of the Field School weeks. If you are below age 16, you will need
to be accompanied by a responsible adult who has also signed up for the Field School.
Tea/coffee/drinking water will be provided, as will
all tools except a digging trowel, but you will need to bring your own packed lunch.
not available at Copped Hall, but details of nearby B&B / hotel / hostel / camping accommodation
can be viewed here. The site is just off the
M25 motorway and easily accessible by car or bicycle.
Though not directly on any public-transport route, a taxi firm operates a service from Epping
Station on the London underground Central Line.
If you wish to attend one or both of the Field Schools, please fill in the
BOOKING FORM, taking care to answer all questions, and send it
off promptly with a cheque for the appropriate payment (made payable to the Copped Hall Trust).
For further information please contact Mr Andrew Madeley: telephone 020 8491 6514, or email
If you book a place, a set
of final joining instructions will be sent to you about a month
before the school starts.
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