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Moated site and associated fishponds at Wetherden Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Hitcham, Suffolk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.1221 / 52°7'19"N

Longitude: 0.879 / 0°52'44"E

OS Eastings: 597189.144202

OS Northings: 251001.950452

OS Grid: TL971510

Mapcode National: GBR SK7.T8K

Mapcode Global: VHKDT.6X1J

Entry Name: Moated site and associated fishponds at Wetherden Hall

Scheduled Date: 24 January 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019972

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33290

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: Hitcham

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Hitcham All Saints

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich

Details

The monument includes a medieval moated site and associated fishponds at
Wetherden Hall which is situated approximately 1.2km to the WSW of the village
of Hitcham and 1km to the north east of the village of Kettlebaston.

The moated site includes a square island with an average width of 80m which is
contained by a waterfilled moat measuring up to 20m in width. A building
platform along the northern edge of the island is occupied by a Listed
Building Grade II, of timber-framed brick construction and late 16th century
origin, known as Old Wetherden Hall. The building platform measures 0.5m above
the surrounding island and extends for a further 26m beyond the western end of
the building, marking the site of a part of the structure which was standing
until 1984. It is thought that this building originally represented a service
range ancillary to the main house, the site of which is indicated by traces of
brick footings which have been reported towards the east side of the island.
The moat is crossed on the west side by a brick built bridge, supported on two
arches, the base of which is believed to date from the 16th century. The inner
edges of the moat on the south and east sides are revetted with brick, laid in
English bond with small projecting buttresses at intervals. It is thought that
the brick revetting, which has been dated to the 16th/17th century, is
contemporary with both the house on the island and the bridge across the west
arm.

Approximately 16m east of the moat are two interconnecting ponds, thought to
represent fishponds associated with the moated site. The westernmost pond
measures up to 34m north-south by 10m east-west, and is situated at right
angles to the infilled easternmost pond which measured up to 22m east-west by
10m north-south. A 2m wide channel, also infilled, originally connected the
two ponds. The easternmost pond and the interconnecting channel will survive
as buried features, and it is thought that the land between the moat and the
fishponds will contain associated buried features, such as a sluice channel.
Another pond, rectangular in shape and measuring up to 39m long NNW-SSE by 10m
wide, is situated less than 8m to the west of the south west corner of the
moat and may have been connected to it originally.

Wetherden Hall is named after Richard Wederton or Witherton who is recorded as
making his will in Hitcham in 1461. By 1466 Wetherden Hall was held by Sir
Robert Fenys and continued in his family until 1538 by which time it was known
as the `manor of Wythertons'. By 1544 Wetherden Hall was in the ownership of
George Waldegrave and was inherited by his son William in the 1560s after the
death of George's wife, Mary. William died in 1577 and in his will he directed
that all the timber he had in `Brettenham hallwood' should be `emploied to
Reparacons of the Bridge over the moate and other Reparacons aboute the saide
moate'. It is believed that the main house was demolished at some time in the
mid-17th century, leaving only the timber-framed brick building along the
north side of the island; this is thought to have been used as a farmhouse
until it was replaced in the 19th century by a house to the west of the moated
site.

The timber-framed brick building known as Old Wetherden Hall, the brick
bridge, the conservatory and wooden decking along the north side of the
island, the greenhouse, the septic tank and the patio are all excluded from
the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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.

The moated site and associated fishponds at Wetherden Hall survive well and
represent a good example of a moated domestic enclosure. The site remains
largely undisturbed by post-medieval and modern activity and retains buried
evidence for the original house towards the south east corner of the island.
The brick revetting recorded on the inner edges of the south and east sides of
the moat demonstrates the high status of the site, and the 16th century
documentary reference adds considerably to the interest of the monument.

The associated fishponds to the east of the moat were created as artificial
pools of slow moving freshwater constructed for the purpose of cultivating,
breeding and storing fish in order to provide a constant and sustainable food
supply. The tradition of construction and use of fishponds began in the
medieval period and reached a peak of popularity in the 12th century. They
were largely the province of the wealthier sectors of society and are
considered important as a source of information concerning the economy of
various classes of medieval settlements and institutions. The fishponds form
an integral part of the medieval manorial complex and provide further evidence
of its economy and status. The pond to the west of the moat may represent an
ornamental feature associated with the moat, but was perhaps used to conserve
a stock of fish.

Comparisons between this site and further examples, both locally and more
widely, will provide valuable insights into the developments in the nature of
settlement in medieval England.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Copinger, W A, 'The Manors of Suffolk' in Manors of Suffolk, , Vol. 3, (1909), 175
Edward, M, 'Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology' in Two Exceptional Houses in Hitcham: Wetherden Hall, , Vol. XXXVII, (1991), 196-204
Other
16 86 195, Suffolk County Council aerial survey, (1986)
Title: 2nd Edition 25 Inch Ordnance Survey Map
Source Date: 1904
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:
64.11
Title: 2nd Edition 25" Ordnance Survey Map
Source Date: 1904
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:
64.11
Title: Tithe Map of Hitcham
Source Date: 1841
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:
SRO(Bury): T147 A1,2

Source: Historic England

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