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Hindringham Hall moated site with adjacent fishponds

A Scheduled Monument in Hindringham, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.8909 / 52°53'27"N

Longitude: 0.9391 / 0°56'20"E

OS Eastings: 597821.748813

OS Northings: 336655.629271

OS Grid: TF978366

Mapcode National: GBR S80.Q8M

Mapcode Global: WHLQZ.DLFL

Entry Name: Hindringham Hall moated site with adjacent fishponds

Scheduled Date: 16 January 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017671

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21439

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Hindringham

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Hindringham St Martin

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument includes a manorial moated site and an adjacent system of
fishponds with associated water management features, situated on a slight
south and east facing slope on the eastern side of the village of Hindringham.
Both moat and fishponds are terraced into the slope with a scarp approximately
1.5m high to the north, the fishponds occupy an area about 18m to the west of
the moat at a slightly lower level.

The moat surrounds a sub-rectangular island with maximum dimensions of
approximately 81m north west-south east by 60m. Hindringham Hall, which stands
at the centre of the island, is Listed Grade II* and is excluded from the
scheduling although the ground beneath is included. It is built on an `E'
plan, facing SSW, with a central hall and projecting wings at either end, and
is dated largely to the second half of the 16th century, although the eastern
wing is thought to be earlier in date. A lease of 1568 refers to `..the
buildings, houses, edifices etc. now being edified and builded as well within
the moyte as without the moyte..' implying that there are likely to be buried
remains of other, contemporary buildings in the area immediately surrounding
the moat; there are also documentary references to a gatehouse, although
nothing of this remains above ground. Garden walls of brick and flint,
incorporating niches and blocked openings, extend NNE and SSW of the eastern
wall of the hall, and are considered to be contemporary with it, these are
included in the scheduling.

The moat itself ranges in width between about 12m on the eastern side and 18m
on the west and is water-filled, fed via an inlet which issues into the
southern end of the eastern arm from a stream running in a channel westwards
alongside the outer edge of the southern arm. The flow of water is controlled
by a modern sluice which is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath it, which may include remains of an earlier structure, is included. A
short projection of the southern arm beyond the south western corner probably
relates to an original outlet connected to the adjacent fishponds. Much of the
lower part of the inner edge of the moat is revetted by a low flint wall,
above which the ground slopes back to the level platform of the central
island. The southern arm is crossed by a brick-built bridge supported on two
arches which provides the principal access to the interior. This bridge
includes bricks of early post-medieval type and, although it shows evidence of
modern reconstruction and repair, is likely to include remains of a structure
contemporary with the 16th century house and is therefore included in the
scheduling. On the southern bank of the adjacent stream, opposite the south
western angle of the moat, there is a large block of flint masonry which
probably represents remains of part of one of the adjacent structures
mentioned in historical documents, and this feature is also included. A large
and heavy oak frame is said to have been found at a depth of approximately
1.5m at the south west corner of the moat adjacent to this feature.

The fishponds, which have become silted but remain partly waterlogged, are
visible as five rectilinear hollows between about 0.5m and 1m in depth and
ranging from about 10m to 15m in width and up to 75m in length. They are
contained within a quadrangular enclosure bounded on the north side by the
scarp of the terrace, on the east side by a slighter scarp, and on the south
and west sides by the channelled stream. Four of the ponds are ranged parallel
to the four sides of the enclosure, on approximately the same alignments as
the corresponding arms of the moat, and the fifth runs east-west across the
centre. The outer edges of the southern and western ponds are retained by a
bank about 1m in height and 10m wide. Short channels, which probably contained
sluices originally, connect the two ends of the western pond to the adjacent
ends of the northern and southern ponds. An east-west drain, approximately 3m
in width, has been cut within the hollow of the central pond to carry the
overflow from the moat, issuing through a culvert from an outlet with sluice
on the outer edge of the western arm. (The culvert and sluice are modern and
are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included).

At the time of the Domesday survey the manor of Hindringham was held by the
bishop of East Anglia, then based in Thetford, and in 1094 it was given by
Herbert de Losinga, the first Norman bishop of Norwich, to the monks of
Norwich priory which he founded. After the dissolution of the monastery in
1539, it remained in the possession of the Dean and Chapter of Norwich
cathedral until the later 19th century.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are Hindringham
Hall, the modern sluice and culvert, a staff house to the north of Hindringham
Hall, all associated outbuildings, all modern drive and path surfaces and
modern paving, all inspection chambers, including a mud trap to the east of
the staff house, garden features, including brick steps and associated walled
area at the south west corner of the central island, and brick walling above
the flint revetment on the inner edge of the northern arm of the moat, a
concrete jetty on the inner edge of the western arm, a modern footbridge
across the northern arm and a brick built bridge across the stream at the
outer south western angle of the moat, walls around a vegetable garden to the
north of the moat, and all modern fence posts and gates around and within the
area of the moat and fishponds; the ground beneath all these 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.

Fishponds are artificially created pools of slow-moving fresh water
constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish to
provide a constant and sustainable supply of food. They may be dug into the
ground, embanked above ground level, or formed by placing a dam across a
narrow valley. Groups of up to 12 ponds, variously arranged in a single line
or in a cluster and joined by leats, have been recorded. The ponds may be of
the same size or of several different sizes, with each pond being stocked with
different species or ages of fish. The size of the pond was related to
function, with large ponds thought to have had a storage capability, whilst
smaller, shallower ponds were used for fish cultivation and breeding.
Fishponds were maintained by a water management system which included inlet
and outlet channels carrying water from a river or stream, a series of sluices
set into the bottom of the dam and along the channels and leats, and an
overflow leat which controlled fluctuations in water flow and prevented
flooding. Buildings for use by fishermen or for the storage of equipment, and
islands possibly used for fishing, wildfowl management or as shallow spawning
areas are also recorded.

The tradition of constructing and using fishponds in England began during the
medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. They were largely built by
the wealthy sectors of society, with monastic institutions and royal
residences often having large and complex fishponds. The difficulties of
obtaining fresh meat in the winter and the value placed on fish in terms of
its protein content and as a status food may have been factors which favoured
the development of fishponds and made them so valuable. The practice of
constructing fishponds declined after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in
the 16th century, although in some areas it continued into the 17th century.
Most fishponds fell out of use during the post-medieval period, although some
were reused as ornamental features in 19th and early 20th century landscape
parks or gardens, or as watercress beds.

Documentary sources provide a wealth of information about the way fishponds
were stocked and managed. The main species of fish kept were eel, tench,
pickerel, bream, perch and roach. Large quantities of fish could be supplied
at a time. Once a year, probably in the spring, ponds were drained and

Fishponds are widely scattered throughout England and extend into Scotland and
Wales. The majority are found in central, eastern and southern parts and in
areas with heavy clay soils. Fewer fishponds are found in coastal areas and in
parts of the country rich in natural lakes and streams, where other sources of
fresh fish were available. Although 17th century manuals suggest that areas of
waste ground were suitable for fishponds, in practice it appears that most
were located close to villages, manors or monasteries, or within parks, so
that a watch could be kept on them to prevent poaching.

Although approximately 2000 examples are recorded nationally, this is thought
to be only a small proportion of those in existence in medieval times. Despite
being relatively common, fishponds are important for their associations with
other classes of medieval monuments and in providing evidence of site economy.

Hindringham Hall moated site and the adjacent fishponds survive well, with the
remains of the associated water management system which links them. The
relationship between the two is of particular interest, as is the documented
connection with Norwich priory. The earthworks and deposits on the moated
island and associated with the fishponds will retain archaeological
information concerning the construction and use of the site and the management
of the fishponds. Organic materials, including evidence for the local
environment, are likely to be preserved, also, in waterlogged deposits in the
ponds, which are not known to have been maintained for use since the 18th
century or earlier. Evidence for prior land use will also survive in soils
buried beneath the retaining banks around the ponds.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gossselin, G J H, 'Norfolk Archaeol' in Hindringham Hall, , Vol. 23, (1926), lxxxii
Title: Plan of Dean and Chapter estate, Hindringham: NRO DCN 127/75
Source Date: 1739

Title: Tithe Map: NRO PD/565/39/H
Source Date: 1839

Title: Tithe Map: NRO PD/565/39/H
Source Date: 1839

Source: Historic England

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