Archaeology field schools at Copped Hall

  9 – 13 August, 2010 &
16 – 20 August, 2010

Copped Hall Trust Archaeological Project: Field Schools 2010

Continuing investigation into the development of a Tudor grand-house from medieval beginnings at Copped Hall on the edge of Epping Forest.

The name of Copped Hall is first documented in 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 Henry VIII in a property exchange. Mary Tudor (the future Queen Mary) inherited it from her father and lived there while her brother Edward VI was on the throne. Queen Elizabeth granted Copped Hall to her Chancellor, Sir Thomas Heneage, in 1564 - he immediately started rebuilding it to create a Tudor grand-house, where it is said that in 1594 Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream had its first performance during Heneage's wedding festivities. 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'. 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 was in turn 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 the new 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, overlain by the landscaped gardens of the mid-18th century mansion, has been uncovered. The investigations will continue in the summer of 2010.

Two 5-day Field Schools (Monday to Friday), for people already familiar with the basic techniques of archaeological excavation and recording, will start on 9th and 16th August 2010. A small number of places may be available for those who have attended one of the July Taster Weekends' but priority will be given to (a) diggers from other sites who are keen to develop their existing skills under expert supervision and (b) 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, who all know the site very well. The directors will be Christina Holloway, Lee Joyce and John Shepherd. Attendance certificates will be awarded at the end of the course. The cost will be £90 for each week (WEAG members £80). Students will be welcome to book for either or both of the Field School weeks.

For further information, or to book a place, contact Mrs Pauline Dalton at 01992 813725 or

This page was added by Brian Bending on 27/05/2010.

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