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Remains of monastic grange with moated site at Grange Farm

A Scheduled Monument in West Dereham, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.6016 / 52°36'5"N

Longitude: 0.4673 / 0°28'2"E

OS Eastings: 567190.261191

OS Northings: 303285.077631

OS Grid: TF671032

Mapcode National: GBR P6W.YT3

Mapcode Global: WHKQZ.4VSW

Entry Name: Remains of monastic grange with moated site at Grange Farm

Scheduled Date: 7 March 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020445

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30589

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: West Dereham

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: West Dereham

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes remains of a monastic grange with a small moated site
and associated earthworks, located to the east of the road between King's Lynn
and Wereham and about 2.5km to the north east of the site of West Dereham
Abbey, to which the grange belonged. It also includes the buried remains of an
early 17th century house to the north west of the moated site.

Dereham Grange, together with the site of the abbey and other lands belonging
to it were granted to Thomas Dereham of Crimplesham in 1541, following the
Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the house which was later constructed on
the site of the grange is said to have been built by one of his descendants.
It remained in the possession of the Dereham family until 1738.

The moated site is thought to have been occupied by a medieval dovecote. The
moat, which is approximately 15m wide and contains water, surrounds a
rectangular central island which measures about 12m north east-south west by
10m and is raised about 0.4m above the prevailing ground level. An external
bank up to 1m high and 10m wide at the top encloses the moat on the north
eastern and south eastern sides, continuing around the northern and southern
corners. On the north eastern side this bank is cut by the shallow remains of
an overflow channel issuing from the moat into an adjoining ditch. At the end
of the bank on the north western side of the moat the flint wall footings of a
small building are partly visible beneath the turf. The ditch alongside the
bank on the north eastern side of the moat continues as a broader feature
about 6m wide along the outer edge of the bank around the northern corner and,
where the bank terminates, turns at right angles, broadening to about 8m and
extending north westwards for a distance of about 40m. Along the western lip
of the north westward arm of the ditch can be seen the uppermost course and
the remains of the coping of a brick retaining wall, thought to be a
post-medieval garden feature. The remainder of the wall has been buried by the
partial infilling of the ditch on that side.

About 21m to the west of the south western arm of the moat, and roughly
parallel to it, is a slight scarp up to 0.5m high and diminishing towards the
north east, marking the eastern edge of a low platform at least 43m in length
which probably supported a building or buildings.

The site of the demolished 17th century house is marked by an area of uneven
ground about 42m to the north west of the moat. As depicted on the Ordnance
Survey 25 inch map published in 1906, the house was of an open E plan. The
main body of the building, about 23m in length, was aligned south west-north
east, with wings extending north westwards at either end and a projecting
porch on the south east face. According to a partial description published in
1914, it was `a picturesque mansion ... with a high pitched roof'. The porch
led into a large, oak panelled room with a great oak beam, and the rooms on
the upper floor included two rooms with panelled walls and moulded plaster
ceilings with geometric devices. It is likely that this house stood on or near
the site of a medieval building containing the domestic accommodation for the

Approximately 18m to the north east of the site of the 17th century house and
62m to the north east of the moat is a standing building with the date 1625 on
the south eastern gable end. The walls, which display evidence of successive
alterations, include much reused ashlar and dressed stone fragments, derived
either from the demolished abbey buildings or buildings of the monastic
grange, and it is possible that it stands on medieval foundations.

The 17th century standing building is excluded from the scheduling, together
with all modern fences and gates, a hut in a compound which overlies part of
the site of the 17th century house, a flagpole opposite the hut, flagstones
adjacent to the flagpole and around the hut, inspection chambers and service
poles, 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

A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and
independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile
labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for
consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide
surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th
century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution.
This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon
imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers
(secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident
labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were
specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms,
bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and
industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the
wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands
immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange.
Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands.
On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the
parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular
farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the
size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the
buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to
be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was
without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed
is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of
monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small
percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of
identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the
evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to
medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological
survival are identified as nationally important.

Few monastic granges with surviving features of medieval date have been
identified in Norfolk, and the remains of the grange at Grange Farm, which is
believed to have been the home grange of West Dereham Abbey, are therefore of
particular interest. The visible earthworks and buried remains will contain
archaeological evidence for buildings and other features of the monastic farm
which will, in conjunction with the remains of the abbey precinct 2.5km to the
south west, contribute to a better understanding of the monastic economy as a

The majority of medieval moated sites were occupied by high-status residences,
but a few in East Anglia, characterised like the example at Grange Farm by
their small size and usually by a raised central platform, are thought to have
been constructed to contain dovecotes. Dovecotes are specialised structures
designed for the breeding and keeping of doves as a source of food and as a
symbol of high social status, and they were frequently associated with manor
houses and monasteries. Most surviving examples were built in the period
between the 14th and 17th centuries, although both earlier and later examples
are documented. They were generally free standing structures, square or
circular in plan, and normally of brick or stone, with nesting boxes built
into the internal face of the walls. The central island of the moated site at
Grange Farm is likely to contain the buried remains of such a structure, with
associated archaeological evidence for its construction and use in the
medieval period.

The buried remains of a large, high-status 17th century house, thought to have
been occupied originally by members of the Dereham family, will retain
information relating to the later history of the site and add to the interest
of the monument.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of Norfolk, (1807), 324
Goldie, , 'Norfolk Archaeol' in The Last of the Norfolk Derehams, , Vol. 18, (1914), 4
Edwards, D, NAU TF6703/A/AJ48, (1977)
survey carried out for NAU, Aitken, P, Analysis of Upstanding Building .. at St Mary's Abbey, (1993)
Title: West Dereham: Tithe Map and Apportionment
Source Date: 1845

Source: Historic England

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