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Manorial site 480m south west of Downham Lodge Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Wymondham, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.5994 / 52°35'57"N

Longitude: 1.0977 / 1°5'51"E

OS Eastings: 609883.905818

OS Northings: 304683.41256

OS Grid: TG098046

Mapcode National: GBR TF7.2C2

Mapcode Global: WHLSD.TXXM

Entry Name: Manorial site 480m south west of Downham Lodge Farm

Scheduled Date: 12 March 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020858

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30624

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Wymondham

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Kimberley St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument includes earthworks and buried remains of what is believed to
have been the medieval manor of Downham Hall, situated on the eastern side of
Kimberley Park. A map of Kimberley Hall and grounds made in 1714 shows the
area containing the earthworks as a field named Old Hall Grounds.

Downham Manor, within the parish of Wymondham, was part of the endowment of
Wymondham priory (later abbey) on its foundation early in the 12th century,
and it is recorded that in 1492 the then Abbot, John Kertelyngge, was forced
to retire to his manor of Downham Hall, following a visitation by the Bishop
of Norwich which found the abbey to be in a very disorderly state. At the
dissolution of the abbey in 1538, Downham Hall and manor were leased to John
Flowerdew of Hethersett, and in 1623 the manor was sold to Richard Buxton,
from whom it was acquired by the Wodehouse family. The seat of the Wodehouse's
at that time was Kimberley Hall, on a moated site which is the subject of a
separate scheduling. In the mid-17th century they removed to Downham Lodge,
where they lived until the present Kimberley House was built in 1712. Downham
Lodge, as shown on a map of Kimberley Park dated 1700, appears to have been at
what is now Downham Lodge Farm rather than on this site, which had almost
certainly been abandoned by that time.

Faden's map of Norfolk, published in 1797, shows Downham Common immediately to
the north of the site, and the former common edge is still marked by a
substantial ditch between 8m and 13m wide and up to 1.5m deep, bordered along
the south side by the remains of a bank. This feature, which perhaps served as
a sunken track or hollow way, extends westwards from the Barnham Broom Road on
the east side of the site, curving towards the boundary on the north west side
of the field containing the earthworks. A shallower and narrower ditch,
embanked along the southern side, branches westwards from it about 38m from
the boundary.

The site of the hall, some 45m to the south of the former common edge, is
visible as a sub-rectangular enclosure with internal dimensions of
approximately 125m by 90m, aligned NNE-SSW and convex at the northern end.
This is surrounded on the east and west sides and around the northern end by a
ditch, ranging from 5m to 8m in width and open to a variable depth up to 1.2m,
which could be the remains of a partly infilled moat. The southern end is
bounded by a long, rectangular pond about 18m in width, probably used for
conserving fish, but perhaps designed also to be an ornamental feature. A
causeway across the ditch on the north west side of the enclosure may not be
an original feature.

The enclosure is bisected north east-south west by a linear depression about
12m wide which extends from a field boundary bordering the Barnham Broom
Road (about 100m east of the enclosure) to the opposite field boundary on the
west side. This feature appears to be a later hollow way, established
after the abandonment of the site, and where it cuts across the ditch on the
east side of the enclosure it widens into an irregular depression which is
almost certainly the result of later disturbance. There is, however, some
evidence for an original subdivision of the enclosure at this point; there
are traces of a bank running across the enclosure along the south side of
the linear depression, and more substantial remains of internal banks extend
southwards from this along the inner edges of the ditches on either side of
the enclosure and the pond across the southern end. Slight irregularities
in the ground surface within the enclosure are thought to be the result
of occupation, and other evidence of such occupation has been recorded in
the form of fragments of medieval and post-medieval pottery found on the

A broad low ridge, bordered on either side by ditches, runs SSE from the
ditch or hollow way at the common edge to a point just east of the enclosure
ditch, where it is cut by the hollow way from the east. This corresponds to
the northern part of the eastern boundary of Old Hall Grounds as shown on
the map of 1714, but is perhaps an earlier feature, since it does not extend
the whole length of that boundary. It has the appearance of a track or
causeway leading from the common to the enclosure, although, if so, the
common edge ditch was probably bridged at the point of crossing. Later field
boundaries are marked by the slight remains of rectilinear ditches to the
south east of the manorial enclosure and crossing the enclosure ditch to
the north west.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Medieval manorial settlements, comprising small groups of houses with
associated gardens, yards and paddocks, supported communities devoted
primarily to agriculture, and acted as the foci for manorial administration.
Although the sites of many of these settlements have been occupied
continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were
abandoned at some time during the medieval and post-medieval periods,
particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. The reasons for desertion
were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land-
use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of
widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their
abandonment, these settlements are frequently undisturbed by later occupation
and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits, providing information on
the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy, and on the
structure and changing fortunes of manorial communities.

The earthworks of the enclosure 480m south west of Downham Lodge Farm are
less substantial than those of many moated manorial sites, but they
survive well, with little or no evidence of modern disturbance, and the
evidence that they mark the site of Downham Hall manor gives them
additional interest. The earthworks and associated buried remains will
retain archaeological information concerning the construction and history
of the manorial site and the manner of its occupation during the medieval
period. The hollow way which marks the boundary of the adjacent common is
also of interest as a feature of historical topography. The monument is
one of several manorial sites in and around Kimberley which are associated
with the Wodehouse family in the late medieval and early post-medieval
periods, including three moated sites which are the subject of separate
schedulings. As a group these will contribute to an understanding of the
manorial history of the district and social and economic life in this
area of Norfolk during the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, (1805), 505,506
Cox, J C, The Victoria History of the County of Norfolk, (1906), 340,341
Williamson, T, 'British Archaol Reports Brit Ser' in The Archaeology of the Landscape Park, , Vol. 268, (1989), 148,152
Williamson, T, 'British Archaeol Reports Brit Ser' in The Archaeology of the Landscape Park, , Vol. 268, (1998), 148,152
Title: A Great Survey of Kimberley Park
Source Date: 1700
NRO Ref. MF/RO 499/2 (microfilm copy)
Title: A Map of Kimberley Hall and Grounds belonging to it
Source Date: 1714
NRO Ref. MF/RO499/2 (microfilm copy)
Title: A Map of Kimberley Hall and Grounds belonging to it
Source Date: 1714
NRO Ref. MF/RO499/2 (microfilm copy)
Title: A Topographical Map of the County of Norfolk
Source Date: 1797
Reprinted 1989

Source: Historic England

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