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Copped Hall Trust Archaeological Project:
 Field School 2019

Over 17   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 2018 Digging Season

  Saturday 10th to Wednesday 14th 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 the following years work continued on investigating foundations outside the South-West areas of the mansion. Work will continue in this area during 2019, 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.


A 5-day Field School running from Saturday to Wednesday, for people already familiar with the basic techniques of Archaeological excavation and recording, will start on 10th August 2019.  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.    Accommodation is 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.

Please note: to print the Booking Form click on words BOOKING FORM to open the form and then use the printer symbol on the bar immediately above the form to print it.  Do not use the printer symbol at the top of the browser window or use File-Print as these will not work.
If you have difficulty opening the form please email and request a copy of the form.


(C) West Essex Archaeological Group 2009. Last updated February 2019.
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