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Remains of Bixley Hall and associated garden water features

A Scheduled Monument in Bixley, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.5905 / 52°35'25"N

Longitude: 1.3359 / 1°20'9"E

OS Eastings: 626053.177381

OS Northings: 304414.738096

OS Grid: TG260044

Mapcode National: GBR WJ6.GKJ

Mapcode Global: WHMTV.H4CW

Entry Name: Remains of Bixley Hall and associated garden water features

Scheduled Date: 20 August 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018178

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30543

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Bixley

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Poringland Great All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument includes the remains of Bixley Hall and the visible and buried
remains of water features which enclosed the gardens surrounding it, situated
approximately 500m to the south of the earthwork remains of the medieval
settlement of Bixley which are the subject of a separate scheduling.
The hall was built originally in about 1565 and rebuilt around 1714, and by
the mid-18th century the grounds beyond the gardens, as shown in a map of the
estate made in 1769, included the site of the medieval settlement. The hall
was demolished in 1904.

The visible remains of the hall include some sections of brick wall standing
to a height of up to 1.5m and extensive cellars, also of brick, with arched
recesses in the walls. Most of the bricks are of a type consistent with a 16th
century date, and it is possible that the later house was constructed partly
on the foundations of the original hall, or reusing the original brick. Within
the cellars there are large piles of brick rubble and some displaced
flagstones. In plan the building is rectangular, with short projecting wings
on the east side. On 18th century maps various other buildings, probably
including the stables, are shown grouped around a yard approximately 30m to
the east of the hall, and partly buried brick foundations remain visible in
this area. A map of 1769 also shows a walled area containing smaller
outbuildings immediately to the south east of the hall.

Approximately 24m to the south of the hall are the earthwork remains of an
ornamental canal, now dry, which remains open to a depth of up to 1.5m and
measures approximately 144m in length and 9m in width. This feature is aligned
ENE-WSW, roughly parallel to the south frontage of the hall, and an arched,
brick lined drain leading from the cellars of the hall issues into it on the
north side. Along the southern side and around the western end of the canal
there is a low, flat-topped bank approximately 8m in width and up to 0.7m in
height which probably carried a raised walkway. In the bottom, some 24m in
from the western end, there is a rectangular brick structure, probably of
later 18th or 19th century date, which may have been the base of a fountain or
statue. Opposite this feature, a ditch approximately 1m deep and 6m wide runs
NNW from the canal for a distance of approximately 66m, from which point it
continues as a somewhat wider channel curving NNE and eastwards around the
northern side of the hall. This feature is shown on a map of 1805 but,
according to the evidence of earlier maps, the curving northern section is
part of an alteration carried out during the later 18th century. A plan of the
estate made in 1769 shows the ditch as rectilinear, turning ENE at the
northern end of the western arm and continuing parallel to the canal for a
distance of approximately 35m, and it is thought that in this form it
represents the remains of a rectangular ornamental moat constructed around the
garden of the 16th century hall, the eastern arm of the moat and the eastern
end of the northern arm having been infilled at a later date, although they
will survive as buried features. The plan of 1769 also shows the hall and
water features enclosed on the eastern and western sides by a wall, and the
presence of brick foundations, probably of 16th or 17th century date, has been
confirmed in an area immediately to the west of the monument, where the
excavation of a modern pit has cut through them.

During the medieval period the manor of Bixley was split into three parts
which, prior to the Dissolution of the monasteries, were held by Carrow Abbey,
Langley Abbey and Mettingham College. After the Dissolution it was reunited in
the hands of the Duke of Norfolk, and later passed into the hands of the
Wards, a family of local gentry. The original hall on this site was built by
Edward Ward. The hall remained in the hands of the Ward family for several
generations and in the later 18th century passed, with the estate, to Lord

The pheasant shelter and rabbit-proof fencing are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

In the period following the Dissolution of the monasteries many prominent
local landowners built country houses to demonstrate their taste and their
often newly acquired wealth and status. Such houses differed in form, function
and architectural style from the manor houses of the medieval period, and were
built to designs which drew on ideas and details in Continental pattern books,
particularly those published in the 1560s on French, Italian and Flemish
models, and incorporated elements of Classical architecture. In East Anglia,
the influence of the Flemish style was particularly strong. The 16th century
is also characterised by the much more widespread use of brick in high status
domestic architecture. By the early 18th century the prevailing style was
plainer, less eclectic and more consciously `Classical' in form, and houses of
this period tend to be built on a symmetrical rectangular plan, rather than
the `E' and `U' plans with cross wings typical of the Elizabethan and Jacobean

The gardens designed and laid out around 16th century houses in England
followed highly regular, geometric plans which had their origins in the
traditions of the medieval period, but they were also strongly influenced by
ideas received from France and the Netherlands and derived ultimately from
Italian Renaissance models. Characteristic features of such gardens included
symmetrical water features such as canals and ornamental moats, as well as
terraces, raised walkways and parterres.

The remains of Bixley Hall and its surrounding gardens display elements of
both the original 16th century house and the early 17th century rebuilding or
remodelling, and the earthworks of the garden water features also include
evidence of later 18th century alteration which reflects the more informal
style then fashionable. The monument as a whole will contain archaeological
information concerning the architecture and construction of the house, its
domestic organisation and the lives of its inhabitants from the second half of
the 16th to the end of the 19th century, and the relationship of the hall to
the remains of the medieval village of Bixley which survive to the north of it
is also of great interest, since it is likely that the acquisition of the
individual holdings by the owners of the estate, and their incorporation into
the grounds around the hall was the ultimate cause of the depopulation of the

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, (1805), 452-455
Title: A Topographical Map of the County of Norfolk
Source Date: 1797
Edition published 1989
Title: Enclosure and Tythe Award Map, Bixley
Source Date: 1805
Norfolk RO DCN/TA 449A
Title: Plan of an estate lying in Bixley
Source Date: 1769

Source: Historic England

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