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Earl Soham Lodge moated site and fishponds

A Scheduled Monument in Earl Soham, Suffolk

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Latitude: 52.2242 / 52°13'27"N

Longitude: 1.2672 / 1°16'2"E

OS Eastings: 623248.614585

OS Northings: 263471.784809

OS Grid: TM232634

Mapcode National: GBR VM7.H7C

Mapcode Global: VHLB2.XC99

Entry Name: Earl Soham Lodge moated site and fishponds

Scheduled Date: 9 November 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011328

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21297

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: Earl Soham

Built-Up Area: Earl Soham

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Earl Soham St Mary

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich


The monument includes a moated site and associated fishponds, situated on a
spur overlooking the village of Earl Soham to the south and east. The
monument is contained within two separate areas. The moated site includes a
sub-circular island surrounded by a water-filled moat between 2m and 2.5m deep
and varying in width between 10m on the north west side and 17m on the south
east, the overall dimensions being 95m north west - south east by 90m north
east - south west. The moat is crossed on the south east side by a 16th
century brick-built bridge listed Grade II supported on two arches and on the
north west side by a causeway which does not appear to be original.
Immediately to the west of the bridge, the southern side of the moat has been
extended to form a shallow, sub-rectangular horse-pond. The Grade II* listed
house which stands on the island includes parts which are dated to the 16th
century and evidence of a more extensive building of 16th century or earlier
date is visible on the adjacent south west side of the moat. Here, the inner
edge of the moat west of the bridge is faced for a length of approximately 40m
with a brick wall, from which project the footings of two large brick bays
and, to the east of them, the base of a polygonal brick turret. There is a
blocked arch in the wall east of the latter and, beyond the western end of the
wall, the base of a second polygonal structure projects onto the moat. The
bridge, together with these associated walls and structures, which are also
listed Grade II, are included in the scheduling. Substantial foundations have
also been noted beneath flower beds behind the wall. Parts of the inner edge
of the moat north west of the second polygonal structure and also to the north
east of the bridge, are revetted in brick.

Approximately 30m east of the moat is a flight of three parallel, rectangular
fish ponds, terraced into a gradual, south-facing slope. An outlet from the
east side of the moat, piped beneath a field gate, leads into the north
western end of the westernmost and largest pond, which measures approximately
32m north - south by 15m east west, and a channel 2m wide issues from the
lower, south eastern corner of this to feed the middle and lower ponds, which
measure 19m north - south by 8m east - west and 45m north - south by 8m east -
west respectively. A part of an outlet channel, approximately 6m long and 5m
wide, survives on the eastern side of the lower pond. All three ponds are
silted, but the two larger are seasonally wet. Their estimated maximum depth
is between 2.5m and 3.5m. The southern end of this system is bounded by a
low earthen bank, approximately 0.5m in height.

The manor of Earl Soham was purchased in the mid 12th century by Hugh Bigod,
Earl of Norfolk and thereafter went with the manor of Framlingham until the
end of the 16th century. During the 15th century and for much of the 16th
century it formed part of the estates of the Dukes of Norfolk, first of the
Mowbray family, then of the Howards. The manor, including Earl Soham Lodge
and the park in which it stood was then sold by Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk
to John Cornwallis (died 1615).

The house and all existing outbuildings within the moated area, and all garden
walls, other than the walls, revetment and associated structures on the inner
faces of the moat as described above, are excluded from the scheduling, as are
all yard surfaces and driveways, a lamp post which stands in the yard to the
east of the house, the modern concrete blocks which reinforce the outer bank
of the moat on the western side, and all fences and field boundaries; the
ground beneath these buildings and features is, however, included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and
exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a
significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding
of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples
provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

Earl Soham Lodge moated site survives well and is a very good example of a
moated domestic enclosure situated in a prominent and relatively high
position. It displays a wide range of features, including the visible remains
of substantial 15th or 16th century buildings on the site, in addition to
that incorporated in the standing structure of the Lodge. The documented
association of the manor with Framlingham and the Dukes of Norfolk adds
further interest to the site, which probably served as a hunting lodge.

The fishponds associated with the moated site were created as artificial pools
of slow moving water, the flow of which was controlled by sluices and overflow
channels, utilising the natural fall of the land. They were constructed for
the purpose of managing fresh-water fish stocks and form an important part of
the domestic complex on the site. The principal elements of the water
management system survive well, and organic material, including evidence
concerning the local environment, will be contained in waterlogged deposits in
the ponds.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Copinger, W A, History of the Manors of Suffolk, (1909), 251-253
Farrer, E, 'East Anglian Miscellany' in Earl Soham Lodge, , Vol. 9, (1915), 40
H B M C Listing: Earl Soham, TM26SW 8/29,
Hinton, B N, (1992)

Source: Historic England

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