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Moated site and site of St Nicholas' church immediately east of Church Farm

A Scheduled Monument in All Saints and St. Nicholas, South Elmham, Suffolk

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Latitude: 52.3947 / 52°23'40"N

Longitude: 1.4118 / 1°24'42"E

OS Eastings: 632224.455284

OS Northings: 282885.6748

OS Grid: TM322828

Mapcode National: GBR WLM.XD0

Mapcode Global: VHM6V.F27K

Entry Name: Moated site and site of St Nicholas' church immediately east of Church Farm

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018365

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21450

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: All Saints and St. Nicholas, South Elmham

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Rumburgh with South Elmham All Saints St Michael and All Angels and St Felix

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich


The monument is situated immediately to the north east of the site of
St Nicholas Green, and includes the moated site of what was probably a
medieval rectory and the adjoining site of a medieval churchyard containing
the buried remains of St Nicholas' church. The moated site, which is
rectangular in plan and has overall dimensions of approximately 55m north
east-south west by 43m, is aligned parallel to, and set about 20m back from a
minor road along what was formerly the north side of the green. It is terraced
into a slight, south facing slope, so that the surface of the interior of the
enclosure is lower than the ground level to the north of the moat. The moat
which encloses the central platform on the north, west and south sides is for
the most part water-filled and ranges in width from approximately 6m to 12m
lip to lip, the southern arm being the widest. The eastern arm has been
infilled and survives chiefly as a buried feature, marked on the surface by a
linear depression approximately 8m wide and 0.5m deep in the ground surface.
Access to the interior is provided by a level causeway approximately 9m wide
across the eastern end of the southern arm. Maps of the site made in the first
half of the 19th century show that a house once stood at the eastern end of
the enclosure, opposite the causeway, and evidence for this building will
survive below the ground surface although nothing remains visible above.

St Nicholas' church stood immediately to the east of the moated site. The
earliest documentary reference to a church here is in the Domesday survey of
1086, and later records show that it was in use until at least the mid-16th
century, when the living was joined with that of All Saints (the church of All
Saints is situated some 725m to the east). The two parishes were finally
consolidated in 1737. The building is said to have been in a state of decay by
around 1620, and most of it was demolished in the mid-18th century. One wall
remained standing in 1844 and, although nothing of it is now visible,
demolition rubble has been recorded on the site and foundations are believed
to survive below the ground surface. The location of what is understood to
have been the west end of the church is marked by a stone cross which was
erected during the 19th century and is included in the scheduling. The remains
of the church lie within a plot measuring approximately 63m south west-north
east by 43m and formerly known as Church Meadow, the boundaries of which are
believed to correspond to the curtilage of the medieval churchyard. The ground
surface within this area is raised approximately 0.5m above the level of the
road to the south, and human remains are said to have been unearthed here
during drainage works in the 19th or early 20th century.

Railings protecting the stone cross, a stand pipe to the west of the moated
site, and all modern fences and gates 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

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 survives well and remains unencumbered by modern building as
does the adjacent site of St Nicholas' church. The monument will retain
archaeological information concerning the construction and use of the moated
site during the medieval period, and of the medieval church with which it is
associated. Organic materials, including evidence for the local environment
in the past, are likely to be preserved in waterlogged deposits in the moat.
The location of the church and moated site alongside the site of one of the
medieval greens which were a typical feature of this part of the Waveney
Valley, and which were foci of settlement during the medieval period, is of
particular interest for the study of local landscape history and of the social
and economic organisation of the population of the region during the medieval

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Newman, J, Moated Site, St Nicholas South Elmham, (1992)
SEN 008,
Title: All Saints & St Nicholas, South Elmham Tithe award map
Source Date: 1840

Walpole, B, (1996)

Source: Historic England

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