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Deer park and rabbit warren at Newnham Park

A Scheduled Monument in Sparkwell, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4111 / 50°24'40"N

Longitude: -4.0389 / 4°2'20"W

OS Eastings: 255224.145462

OS Northings: 58793.743405

OS Grid: SX552587

Mapcode National: GBR Q1.YDCY

Mapcode Global: FRA 27FY.VQP

Entry Name: Deer park and rabbit warren at Newnham Park

Scheduled Date: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020169

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34874

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sparkwell

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes a post-medieval deer park and associated rabbit
warren, lying on the west side of the valley of the Tory Brook, 1km north
of Plympton. The park was constructed by the Strode family to complement
their new mansion at Newnham Park in about 1700. The deer park survives
as an earthwork park pale enclosing an area 955m from east to west and
1520m from north to south. The pale takes the form of a large earth bank
measuring between 2.5m and 5m wide, with a stone rubble inner face from
1.3m to 2.5m high, capped with horizontal slate slabs, falling to an inner
ditch between 2.5m and 5m wide and 1.5m deep. This construction varies,
with the bank and ditch larger, and a wide outer ditch, where the pale
crosses the floor of the Tory Brook valley at its north end, while the
stone type and technique of construction of the wall varies from large
granite boulders at the north west end, to small slate rubble laid
vertically on the east and west sides, and river boulders towards the
south. A small quarry cuts into the park pale's outer ditch towards the
north end of the monument. As the floor of the quarry is likely to contain
archaeological remains of the pale and is close to an extant portion of
the bank, the quarry in included in the scheduling. Several gates in the
pale have heavy mortared stone piers with convex faces, 2m high, often
with stops for outward opening gates. An arch 4m wide took the pale over
the Tory Brook at the north end of the park, with dressed granite quoins
1.2m wide, while two leats serving ornamental ponds in the garden of
Newnham Park House, and feeding Loughtor Corn Mill south of the park, pass
through stone-lined culverts in the park pale at two locations. These
measure 1m wide and 0.5m high with roofs formed with granite slabs. The
leats survive as earthworks 2m wide and 1.3m deep, with banks 2m wide and
1.5m high on their downhill sides. The lower leat, of mid-19th century
date, is lined with stone for part of its course. In the valley of the
Tory Brook, the ditches of the park pale cut across the dumps and channels
of medieval tin streamworking debris, while a leat which runs close to the
park pale on its east side served Wheal Mace, a 19th century tin mine,
whose workings lie within the park to the west. This leat is 1.5m wide
and 0.6m deep with a bank 1.5m wide and 0.5m high on its downhill side. A
rabbit warren lies immediately north west of the deer park in Coney Park
Plantation, and measures 150m from east to west and 185m from north to
south. Its enclosing bank measures 3.5m wide and 0.7m high, with remains
of a stone rubble inner face 0.5m high, dropping to an inner ditch 1m wide
and 0.3m deep. To the north and south of the warren, droveways from Park
Lane, which runs down the west side of the park and warren, lead in to a
sub-rectangular pound to the east, 73m from east to west and a maximum of
130m long from north to south. Its enclosing stone-faced banks are 2m wide
and up to 1.8m high. All modern track surfacings and fence posts are
excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included.

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

Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for
the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally
located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house,
castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually
comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of
cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features,
including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit
warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a
park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch.
Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon
period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the
majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks,
between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity
amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed
and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had
largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown
but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive today, although often
altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually
every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home
Counties. Deer parks were a long-lived and widespread monument type. Today
they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of medieval
nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern
landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well-documented or
associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally
identified as nationally important.

Despite slight erosion damage from stock and natural causes, the earthwork
pale surrounding the deer park at Newnham Park will preserve important
features relating to its construction and use. Stratified archaeological
deposits are likely to survive in the ditches and banks forming the pale,
and will add of considerably to the future understanding of the park.
Warrens are areas, occasionally associated with deer parks, set apart for
the breeding and management of rabbits or hares. They usually consist of
an enclosure to contain and protect the animals, with pillow mounds or
buries constructed to house the animals, and living quarters for the
warrener who kept charge of the warren. They date from between the 12th
and 19th centuries, with most examples dating from the 17th century
onwards. The warren immediately north west of Newnham Park is
well-preserved. Its enclosure bank and associated ditch will contain
stratified deposits relating to its construction and use. The animal
pound to the north west of Newnham Park is well-preserved; its embanked
funnel shaped droveways off Park Lane, and its relationship with the
rabbit warren, are unusual features.

Source: Historic England


MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)

Source: Historic England

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