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Moated site at The Old Rectory

A Scheduled Monument in St. Margaret, South Elmham, Suffolk

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Latitude: 52.4032 / 52°24'11"N

Longitude: 1.4011 / 1°24'3"E

OS Eastings: 631452.251338

OS Northings: 283793.769339

OS Grid: TM314837

Mapcode National: GBR WLM.71S

Mapcode Global: VHM6N.7VKL

Entry Name: Moated site at The Old Rectory

Scheduled Date: 24 July 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017635

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30524

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: St. Margaret, South Elmham

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: South Elmham St Margaret St Margaret

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich


The monument includes a moated site which is believed to be the site of the
medieval rectory, located 150m south of St Margaret's Church, on the west side
of the road through the village. It lies some 50m to the north east of the
present Old Rectory, which is a building largely of 19th century date.

The moat, which is water-filled, ranges in width from approximately 7m to 18m
and surrounds the northern, western and southern sides of the area on which
the medieval buildings are thought to have stood. At some time during the 19th
century it was modified as a garden water feature, and the inner edge now
describes an irregular curve around the western end of this partial enclosure.
The outer edge defines a more rectilinear north western angle and, according
to old editions of Ordnance Survey 1:2500 maps, was at one time more regular
around the south western angle also. On the north side, the moat is
approximately 43m in length and issues into a narrower channel approximately
4m wide and 41m in length which extends eastwards to the road. The moat on the
south side is approximately 60m in overall length and terminates at the
eastern end in a short southward extension. It is possible that the moated
site was always open at the eastern end and fronted directly onto the road,
although a slight but distinct scarp alongside the boundary with the road
defines what may have been the western edge of an infilled north-south ditch
about 4m wide. The interior area, as thus defined, has maximum dimensions of
around 78m east-west by 32m north-south. The ground surface of the interior is
uneven and slopes to a lower level in the south western part of the enclosure.

According to a map of the Glebe dated 1834, the moat in the earlier part of
the 19th century remained open and water-filled in three separate sections,
with a gap around 25m wide, probably created by infilling in order to provide
greater ease of access, on the south western side. The southern arm is
depicted as it remains today, including the out-turning eastern end. The north
western section of the moat, including most or all of the northern arm, is
shown as more regular in width than now, with the inner edge following a
rounded angle corresponding to that of the outer edge. The third and shortest
section corresponds to the western end of the narrower channel which extends
to the road on the northern side. It is likely that the outlines of infilled
sections of the moat remained at least partly visible on the ground surface
and were followed when the south western part was recut.

The map dated 1834 records two buildings standing on the moated site, but the
Tithe Award map of 1842 shows none, and the site has remained unoccupied since
that date.

The monument is one of several rectorial moated sites which survive in the
different parishes which made up the manor of South Elmham and which are the
subject of separate schedulings. The manor was held in the later 11th century
by the Bishop of Thetford and subsequently, until the Reformation, by the
Bishops of Norwich who had a country seat at the moated site of South Elmham
Hall located 850m to the south west, also the subject of a separate
scheduling. Other features of the medieval landscape which survive in the area
include St Margaret's Green, some 750m to the south east, at the eastern end
of the parish.

A timber garden structure standing on the moated site, a concrete-lined tank
adjacent to the outer edge of the southern arm of the moat, a modern
footbridge, paving and all fence posts are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath all these features is 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.

The moated site at The Old Rectory survives well. The interior is unencumbered
by modern buildings, and the moat itself, although it has undergone some later
modification, retains much of its earlier form. The monument will contain
archaeological information concerning the construction of the moat and
subsequent occupation of the site, including evidence for the buildings which
once stood upon the central platform. It has additional interest as one of the
several rectorial moated sites within the episcopal manor of South Elmham, and
in relation to a variety of other features of the medieval landscape which
survive in the area and are of importance for the study of medieval

Source: Historic England


Blaxland, J C, (1997)
Title: Map of the Glebe, St Margaret's, South Elmham
Source Date: 1834
In possession of Major Blaxland

Source: Historic England

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