Ancient Monuments

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Gore decoy 760m south east of Lauriston Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Essex

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Latitude: 51.7398 / 51°44'23"N

Longitude: 0.7882 / 0°47'17"E

OS Eastings: 592600.224062

OS Northings: 208247.758999

OS Grid: TL926082

Mapcode National: GBR RNF.VFG

Mapcode Global: VHKGP.MJ1L

Entry Name: Gore decoy 760m south east of Lauriston Farm

Scheduled Date: 16 December 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019149

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32409

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Tolleshunt D'Arcy

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Goldhanger

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes a decoy pond located in an area of grazing marsh near
the northern shore of the Blackwater Estuary, some 760m south east of
Lauriston Farm and immediately adjacent to the sea wall, on the other side of
which are the Gore Saltings.
The major components of the decoy survive in good condition. These include a
large, rather irregular, although roughly square, central pond with eight
ditches or pipes radiating, one from each corner, with the others in between.
The pond is water-filled. Towards its centre is an earthern platform which may
have supported a decoy hut used for storage. An earthwork bank surrounds the
pond, some 1m-2m high on the south western and north eastern sides. The pipes
can be traced on the ground as earthworks and also show clearly on aerial
photographs taken in 1993 and 1996; the pipe coming off the north eastern
corner survives particularly well and is partly water-filled.
The decoy is one of at least 19 known to have existed in the Blackwater
Estuary during the 18th and 19th centuries. Cartographic evidence gives an
early date of construction for the monument, appearing on a map of 1768.
Documentary sources show that in 1886 the decoy was known as Tollesbury
Gore Decoy, and that at that time it had been worked within living memory,
although not for many years.
All wooden walkways, fences and other modern features are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Decoy ponds are artificially created or modified pools of water onto which
wildfowl were lured to be trapped and killed for food and for feathers. They
consist of a central pool off which lead a number of curving arms or ditches,
known as pipes. Nets were constructed over the narrowing ends of these pipes
towards which the birds were lured by the decoyman and his dog. Screens were
erected along the sides of the pipes with carefully placed gaps so that the
dog would be visible to the birds only when his appearance would lead the
birds towards the nets at the ends of the pipes. Once at the ends the nets
would be dropped and the decoyman was able to wring the birds' necks.
The tradition of constructing such ponds appears to have begun in the medieval
period, with the simplest designs indicating an early date. The more familiar
decoy pond, however, is said to have originated in Holland and to have been
introduced into England in the 17th century. The word `decoy' is said to
derive from the Dutch `eendenkooi' meaning `duck cage'. Their greatest
popularity came in the 18th and 19th centuries when large numbers were built,
with a small number continuing in use until World War II. The ideal size for a
decoy pond was between 1ha and 5ha with a depth of water of not more than a
metre. The number of pipes varies from one to more than five, often arranged
in symmetrical patterns around the central pool. Although once common features
of lowland England (being particularly associated with the east and south east
coasts), modern drainage has modified or destroyed all but a few examples.
Most examples which survive in a near-complete state of preservation will be
considered of national importance and worthy of protection.

The comparatively large decoy pond 760m south east Lauriston Farm, known as
Gore Decoy, is a fine mid-18th century example, in a good state of
preservation. Once numerous, there are now only a small number of Essex decoys
surviving. Of the 19 or so known to have been in use along the shores of the
Blackwater estuary during the late 18th through to the mid- to late 19th
century, only two survive in good condition. The decoy's pond, banks and pipes
survive well enabling us to envisage how it operated. Decoys were very
important features of the Essex marshland landscape and made a significant
contribution to the marshland economy during the 17th, 18th and 19th

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Glegg, W E, 'Vol XXVII Essex Naturalist' in The Duck Decoys of Essex, , Vol. 27-part7, (1943), 191-225
1:10 000, Ingle, C, TL90NW, (1995)
ERO B831, Harvie's Farm Sale Catalogue, (1813)
Gramolt, David William, The Coastal Marshland of East Essex, 1960, Thesis MA Degree, Univ. of London
Rogers, P, 485/6, (1993)
Strachan, D, CP/95/31/11, (1995)
Strachan, D, CP/96/CO/2/2-3, (1996)
Title: Bowen Map
Source Date: 1768
Essex Record Office
Tyler, S, MPP2/1-14; MPP3/1-4, (1998)
Tyler, S, Site Inspection Notes, (1998)

Source: Historic England

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