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Post-medieval deer park, medieval fishpond, 18th century triumphal arch and a 19th century lead mine, ore works and smelt mill at Boringdon Park

A Scheduled Monument in Sparkwell, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4101 / 50°24'36"N

Longitude: -4.0683 / 4°4'5"W

OS Eastings: 253134.445

OS Northings: 58736.2619

OS Grid: SX531587

Mapcode National: GBR NZ.RJW5

Mapcode Global: FRA 27CY.WDT

Entry Name: Post-medieval deer park, medieval fishpond, 18th century triumphal arch and a 19th century lead mine, ore works and smelt mill at Boringdon Park

Scheduled Date: 12 March 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020565

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33780

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sparkwell

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument, which falls into five separate areas of protection,
includes parts of the earthwork pale surrounding a post-medieval deer park
of 1699, a medieval fish pond, a medieval wood bank, a triumphal arch, a
19th century lead mine, and settling ponds of an associated ore works with
an adjoining smelt mill.
The park occupies a shallow valley forming a tributary of the River Plym. It
covers an area of 88ha and is irregular in plan, measuring a maximum of
1.38km from east to west and 1.06km from north to south. The pale, which
survives best along the north and south west sides of Boringdon Park Wood, is
in the form of an earth bank between 1m and 1.5m high and 2m wide, sloping
down to an outer ditch 2m wide and 0.2m deep. On the inner face of this bank
is a stone wall. Occasionally the bank is separated from the ditch by a flat
berm measuring 1m wide.
A large medieval fish pond, which belonged to Plympton Priory, is enclosed
by the park pale at the western end of Boringdon Park Wood. Its earth dam,
which measures 15m wide and up to 2m high is crossed by a medieval road
leading to Plym Bridge. An 18th century stone wall dividing the road from
the pond is pierced by a low gateway with a flat granite arch. This gave
access from the road to the pond for fishermens' boats. At the east end of
the medieval fish pond, two large stone lined settling tanks with sluices
in their sides formed part of a lead ore works constructed in 1846 to
refine lead ore for smelting. The stream which feeds the fish pond passes
between these tanks and a rectangular building to their south, which
contained an ore hearth smelt mill. A water wheel at its west end, fed by
a leat from further up the valley, supplied an air blast to a furnace at
the east end of the building. A stone lined flue climbing the valley side
for 50m to the east has slate cover slabs which could be removed to
collect metal rich particles. A stone chimney stack with a brick upper
stands 5m high at the east end of this flue.
Parts of the northern section of the pale are adjoined by a small 19th
century quarry and an inclined plane belonging to the Lee Moor Tramway.
The tramway embankment and lower end of the cutting have cut away parts of
the park pale. The embankment, cutting and inclined plane all lie outside
the scheduling.
A medieval woodbank 300m long divides the northern part of Boringdon Park
Wood and survives as an earth bank aligned north to south, measuring 6m
wide and 1m high, with a ditch on its west side 3m wide and 0.5m deep.
A brick triumphal arch at the south west corner of the park was designed
by Robert Adam in 1782 and built in 1783 as an eyecatcher for Saltram
House, 2km to the south west. The arch is 12m high and framed by a Roman
Doric portico supported by paired pillars. Lower flanking walls have blind
porticos and plain pilasters to the ends. The single storied lodge
buildings behind are also of brick, with a stone built wing to the west,
these are included in the scheduling with the arch. The arch and the
attached buildings are Listed Grade II*. A road formerly passed through
the gate and ran along the west side of the park. Its course was later
moved 75m to the east and a new section of park pale constructed along its
east side.
Extensive workings belonging to a 19th century lead mine known as
Boringdon Park Mine are included in the scheduling. The mine was worked at
intervals between 1820 and 1857. The surface remains include a series of
shafts and their associated tips and horse whim platforms, following the
lode from a point just south east of Miners' Cottage, to the main engine
shaft 450m to the east. Here, a large tip lies south west of the remains
of an engine house and associated buildings, lying alongside a shallow pit
which marks the site of the engine shaft. A stone walled structure
immediately east of the shaft measures 5m long, 3m wide and 2.5m high and
contained a timber balance box which counterbalanced the weight of the
pumping rods in the shaft. Flat rods continued for 420m to the east to
pumps in a shaft known as Flat Rod Shaft, where another large tip
survives. Two large rectangular embanked reservoirs on the hillside to the
east of the engine shaft supplied water for the boiler of the pumping
engine and a 35 foot (10.6m) diameter water wheel which drove crushing
equipment on a rectangular platform 60m to the west. An ore breaking floor
to its west is 100m long and 25m wide with a cobbled surface, its
extensive dumps falling up to 4m into the valley floor to the south and
west. To the north, a range of buildings includes the remains of the mine
captain's house at the west end, a smithy in the centre, and a room for
drying miners' clothes at the east end. Parts of the boiler and its
furnace doors survive. A small office with a fireplace is set back into
the hillside between the dry and the smithy.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: all
fence posts, road and track surfaces, a pair of 17th century gate piers,
Listed Grade II*, a pair of 18th century granite gate piers which are
Listed Grade II* and the triumphal arch. The ground beneath all these
features is, however, included. In addition, all recorded pipelines and
the ground immediately above them is excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath and to either side is included.

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

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 damage, the surviving sections of pale at Boringdon Park retain
important features relating to the development and use of the site. Stratified
archaeological deposits are likely to survive in the ditches and beneath the
banks contributing to the future understanding of the monument. The inclusion
of a medieval fish pond within the park is an unusual feature, as such ponds
seldom continue in use after the 16th century. The monumental arch at the
south western corner of the park is a rare example of landscape design work by
the architect Robert Adam.
Nucleated lead mines are a prominent type of field monument produced by lead
mining. They consist of adits, shafts, associated spoil tips and remains of
buildings. These can include engine houses for pumping or winding, housing,
workshops and offices, powder houses, power transmission features such as flat
rod systems, and water power and supply features such as wheel pits, dams and
leats. The nucleated lead mine at Boringdon Park Mine is well-preserved, its
pithead buildings, dressing floors and water supply reservoirs being unusual
survivals. The earthworks of several shafts and their tips clearly show the
line of the workings.
Lead ore works were an essential part of a lead mining site, where the ore
and waste rock from the mine were separated to form a smeltable
concentrate. The field evidence of ore works includes remains of crushing
devices, separating tanks, tips of distinctive waste from the various
processes, together with associated water supply and power installations,
such as wheel pits. Two areas within Boringdon Park Wood contain
well-preserved evidence for both the crushing and settling processes. The
large dressing floor with the site of the stamps and water wheel, fed by a
large reservoir, is an unusual combination of structures, while the
settling tanks further down the valley are particularly well-preserved.
Their buried remains will retain information relating to the construction
and use of the site.
Ore hearth smelt mills were introduced in the 16th century and continued to
develop until the late 19th century. The ore hearth was a low open structure,
where lead ore was mixed with fuel. An air blast was supplied by bellows,
normally worked by a water wheel. Lead rich slags from this first smelting
were reworked in a separate hearth, usually within the building. Flues,
condensers and chimneys carried the fumes away and were usually accessible for
the retrieval of metal rich soot. Despite its partial burial, the ore hearth
smelt mill, flue and chimney stack in Boringdon Park Wood are well-preserved,
and are an important survival in an area where smelt mills are very rare.

Source: Historic England


List description, English Heritage, (1975)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)

Source: Historic England

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