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Mistley Quay Wall (Also Known As Thorn or Allen's Quay), Tendring

Description: Mistley Quay Wall (Also Known As Thorn or Allen's Quay)

Grade: II
Date Listed: 9 May 2013
Building ID: 1413747

OS Grid Reference: TM1179531882
OS Grid Coordinates: 611795, 231859
Latitude/Longitude: 51.9449, 1.0802

Locality: Tendring
Local Authority: Tendring District Council
County: Essex
Postcode: CO11 1HB

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Listing Text


Stone and brick quay built 1777.

Reason for Listing

Mistley Quay wall, Essex, designed by the Duke of Bridgewater for the Hon. Richard Rigby in 1777, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the wall has both engineering precision and distinction in the use of materials, the sombre colour and texture of the Portland stone banding contrasting with the rich red and gault brick of the wall’s face;
* Historic interest: it was designed by the Duke of Bridgewater, an historically significant figure nationally, who instigated the construction of the first canal in England and became associated with other civil engineering projects of the time;
* Intactness: despite some patching and the infilling of the dock, the structure has a high degree of intactness;
* Group Value: the quay wall has considerable group value with a cluster of listed buildings on or near to the quayside including Grapevine Cottages and Fountain House (listed at Grade II) and the surviving towers of the Church of St Mary the Virgin by Robert Adam (known as Mistley Towers, listed at Grade I and a scheduled ancient monument).


The manor of Mistley, referred to in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Mitteslea, was bought by Richard Rigby in 1703 with proceeds from his South Sea Bubble investment. Between then and his death in 1730, Rigby built Mistley Hall (demolished) and, according to Morant in 1768, ‘a village of 30 brick houses…granaries, warehouses, a large malting office; and made good quays and coal-yards and there is now a large trade there’ (Morant, P The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, quoted in Stephen Levrant Heritage Architecture Thorn Quay, Mistley Manningtree, Objection to Planning Application PP1838706). It has been suggested that Richard Rigby constructed a sea wall, sluice and a dock in 1725 and that some of this fabric is incorporated into the later quay. His son, Richard Rigby III, continued his father’s endeavours, commissioning the Duke of Bridgewater to design and build the present quay in 1777. The quay, with wooden-pile foundations, was designed to be 540 ft long and 15 ft high, allowing lighters with a 10 ft draught to moor there. Rigby subsequently commissioned Robert Adam to plan a spa resort around the Swan basin at Mistley. It is claimed that Grapevine Cottages and Fountain House (listed at Grade II) on the quayside were intended to be the original spa bathhouse. Ultimately the spa failed, but Adam’s only church building in England located next to the port, known locally as Mistley Towers, attests to Rigby’s ambition and Adam’s architectural prowess. The remains of the church are scheduled as an ancient monument and listed at Grade I.

The port at Mistley served the Stour Navigation, enabled by act of Parliament in 1705, and was highly important as a regional trading place critical for the movement of goods to and from London and other ports. Golding Constable, father of the painter John Constable, is recorded as a co-tenant of a yard and store house at Mistley on Bernard Scale’s estate plan of 1778 (Essex Record Office ref.D/DF1 E1). The map shows the quay in broadly the same configuration as today, except for a dock at the north-west end with a building beside it on the quayside. The dock and building are illustrated in a drawing from 1813 (Mistley Quay from Hanging Wood, Essex Record Office ref. I/LS/COL00042). The building is a warehouse of four storeys with central taking in doors to each floor at the dockside elevation. The distinctive stone courses of the quay face and its kerb are apparent. The dock and warehouse are shown on the Ordnance Survey (OS) maps of 1875 and 1897, but the dock has been filled in since and the building is no longer extant. John Constable sketched the river at Mistley Quay; the towers of Adam’s church and outlines of quayside buildings are clearly discernable, but the drawing is focussed on the lighters on the river rather than any architectural detail. From maritime trade to serving the malting industry of the late C19, Mistley port has maintained its industrial purpose into the C21 and the quay continues to be a crucial, functional, element of this commercial activity.

In the C20, some of the brickwork of the quay was replaced; the position of the dock is marked with concrete shuttering and at the south-east end a C20 brick revetment has been constructed against the face of the quay. The quay top is covered with concrete so that the width of the original structure is obscured. A C20 wired enclosure and warehouse building has been erected at the north-west end at approximately grid reference TM1172331955, where the historic fabric of the quay abuts a modern revetment.

In historical sources of the C19 and C20, the quay is generally known as either Thorn Quay, the port of Mistley or Mistley Quay; for designation purposes the quay will be referred to as Mistley Quay.


Mistley Quay wall of late-C18 origins, designed by the Duke of Bridgewater for the Hon. Richard Rigby, the Paymaster General, in 1777 and modified and repaired in the C20.

MATERIALS: brick and Portland stone.

PLAN: the C18 quay wall runs for approximately 212m aligned north-west to south-east following the contour of the south bank of the river Stour. At the south-east end, the historic quay wall follows a slight indent before abutting a C20 steel-revetment at grid reference TM1186931809. At the north-west end, the historic fabric meets with a C20 timber and steel revetment at TM1172331955.

EXTERIOR: the quay wall comprises red and gault brick, patched with C20 replacement bricks in places, between horizontal bands of roughly dressed Portland stone. Regularly spaced, vertical stone courses in the quay face mark the position of the former dock at the north-west end of the structure, and may mark mooring positions along its extent. A watergate pertaining to the quay of 1725 is said to be located towards the north-west end of the structure but this was not accessible for detailed inspection in 2013 and cannot be confirmed. At the south-east end of the quay wall, the horizontal stone bands are distorted, suggesting either that the surface of the quay was ramped in part, (for which there is no documentary evidence) or possibly, structural failure in the past, necessitating the construction of a C20 brick revetment against the face. Where evident, Portland stone blocks form the kerb of the quay, but the roadway above has a C20 concrete surface masking any earlier fabric which may survive.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.