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Moated site of Barsham Hall and remains of associated buildings

A Scheduled Monument in Barsham, Suffolk

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Latitude: 52.4589 / 52°27'32"N

Longitude: 1.5254 / 1°31'31"E

OS Eastings: 639600.303784

OS Northings: 290397.183765

OS Grid: TM396903

Mapcode National: GBR XMB.VWB

Mapcode Global: VHM6J.DG8B

Entry Name: Moated site of Barsham Hall and remains of associated buildings

Scheduled Date: 3 April 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018968

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30580

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: Barsham

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Barsham Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich


The monument, which is in two separate areas of protection, is situated on low
ground on the south side of the Waveney valley, approximately 750m NNW of Holy
Trinity Church. It includes the moated site of Barsham Hall and the remains of
a circular building known as Blennerhasset's Tower, located some 110m to the
south of the moat and believed to have been a dovecote of medieval or early
post-medieval date.

The first area of protection contains the moat, which encloses the west, north
and east sides of a rectangular central platform raised up to 2m above the
level of the prevailing ground to the east and measuring about 57m north-south
by 55m east-west. The southern side of the platform is marked at its eastern
end by a low, south facing scarp probably marking the inner edge of an
infilled southern arm of the moat which will survive as a buried feature. The
visible parts of the moat are up to 10m wide and have become largely infilled
on the north and east sides, where the outer edges are marked by a low scarp
up to 0.5m high. The western arm contains a modern drainage ditch with an
outlet to the north.

The main part of Barsham Hall which stood on the moated platform is said to
have been built by the Echinghams who held Barsham Manor during the 15th and
early 16th centuries, although the manor is recorded in Domesday Book (1086),
and it is likely that there are remains of earlier buildings on the moated
site. According to a map and sketch dated 1719 it occupied the southern half
of the moated platform and was `E' shaped in plan, aligned east-west. A
photograph of the west wall of the west wing shows blocked and altered window
and door openings of a type consistent with a 15th century or early 16th
century date. The manor was sold by Thomas Blennerhasset in 1598 and
subsequently purchased in 1623 by Sir John Suckling, who was Secretary of
State, Comptroller of the Household and Privy Councillor under James I and
Charles I. The eastern half of the hall was demolished by Robert Suckling some
time between 1802 and 1812, but Alfred Suckling, the local historian and
grandson of Robert Suckling, records that it included a great hall rising to
the full height of the house, a court room with chamber over, a withdrawing
room and a staircase lighted with stained glass windows. The western part of
the hall, by then divided into two cottages, was demolished around 1948 and
nothing of it is now visible above ground, although buried foundations are
known to survive within the moated site. The buried footings of a wall run
northwards from what was approximately the mid-point of the late medieval hall
and produce clear parch marks in dry weather. Substantial flint masonry
footings of a parallel wall to the west of it were noted and partly removed
during works on the site in the 1990s. Small areas of flint masonry which can
be seen exposed on the inner edges of the eastern and northern arms of the
moat may relate to other buildings of medieval date. Suckling also refers to
a tower ascended by a spiral stair which stood near the entrance on the east
side of the moat. The map of 1719 shows a rectangular enclosure adjoining the
southern side of the moat and containing a building with a conical roof which
corresponds to the description of the tower, situated about 32m to the south
of the eastern end of the hall and 6m to the south of the estimated line of
the infilled southern arm of the moat. As it is probable that buried remains
of this structure survive, this area is included in the scheduling. The 18th
century map also shows the building now known as Old Hall, standing on the
east side of the rectangular enclosure. This was originally a banqueting hall
and carries a stone with the date 1563 and the arms of the Blennerhassets, who
acquired the manor by marriage in the second quarter of the 16th century. It
was subsequently used as a barn and has now been converted into two dwellings
and is a Listed Building Grade II. The northern end, which extends across what
is thought to be the line of the buried southern arm of the moat and is within
the area of protection, is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath it is included.

The second area of protection contains the flint masonry footings and buried
remains of Blennerhasset's Tower, which is believed to have been a dovecote
associated with the hall. The footings now stand to a height of about 0.3m.
The building, which was about 10m in diameter and had a conical roof, is also
shown on the 18th century map. It was used in later years as a granary, was
reduced in height and reroofed around 1895, and finally demolished around

That part of the hall where it extends into the area of protection, a modern
outbuilding to the east of it, a modern barn with lean-to extensions within
the moated area, the supports of play apparatus and elevated play houses to
the west of the barn, modern fence and gate posts, a sewage treatment plant
adjacent to the southern end of the west arm of the moat, garden furniture and
modern paving and path surfaces 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.

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 of Barsham Hall is a good example of a manorial moat and the
documentation relating to the history of the site gives it additional
interest. Although there has been limited disturbance caused by later building
on the site, the deposits within the moat and on the central platform,
together with the remains of associated buildings, will contain archaeological
information concerning the construction and occupation of the site during the
medieval and early post-medieval periods to supplement and clarify the
historical record.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Copinger, A W, The Manors of Suffolk, Volume 7, (1911)
Suckling, A I, The History and Antiquities of Suffolk, (1846), 46
Suckling, F H, 'East Anglian Miscellany' in East Anglian Miscellany No 5683, (1920)
Blennerhassett's Tower, Old Hall, Barsham, (1900)
Farrer, E, East Anglian Miscellany No.5598, 5605, 5612, 5614, 5620, 5625, (1919)
Suckling, F H, Some Notes on Barsham juxta Beccles, 1906,
Suffolk RO(Lowestoft) Ref PH-S/BAR/12, Barsham Old Hall, (1930)
Source Date: 1719
In possession of Mrs B Suckling?

Source: Historic England

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