Moated site and ponds at Thistleton Hall


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Suffolk (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TM 23565 53076

Reasons for Designation

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 at Thistleton Hall includes a wide variety of features and the earthworks survive well. The sequence of moats here, which have been added to during the occupation of the site, illustrates the development of a major moated house over an extended period of time. In particular, it is likely that parts of the moated system represent the conversion of what was originally a defensive feature into ornamental gardens. The site will retain important archaeological information concerning the construction and use of the site during the medieval and early post-medieval periods.


The monument includes the complex moated site at Thistleton Hall which is located on high ground 300m east of the boundary between the parishes of Burgh and Clopton. Three separate moats, of differing size and character, enclose the site of the hall itself and two distinct but contiguous areas around it to the east and the south-west. There are two ponds, one internal and one external, associated with the moats. These various features appear to be the result of two or more periods of construction. The core of the site is a rectilinear island with maximum internal dimensions of 25m north-south by 22m east-west, surrounded by a water-filled moat approximately 2m deep and ranging from 5m to 9m in width. Both the inner face of the moat and the outer edge, except on the west side, are revetted with brick but the outer edge also shows evidence of landscaping, including a terrace with a scarp approximately 0.5m high on the north side. The northern and eastern arms of the moat are crossed by single-arched brick bridges and the brick footings of a timber bridge remain alongside the southern arm. Thistleton Hall itself, which was demolished during World War II when the surrounding area was in use as an airfield, occupied almost the whole of the central island. The external appearance was modern, as a result of alterations carried out in the later 19th century, but the interior included features of late 16th or early 17th-century date and parts are said to have dated from the 14th century. An outer moat encloses a much larger area around the south and west sides of the first, the overall dimensions being 115m north-south by 95m east-west. The western and southern arms of this second moat, measuring 5m to 7m in width and up to 2m in depth, are seasonally wet. The eastern arm, which returns towards the south-eastern corner of the inner moat, is of similar width but dry. Alongside it, at the southern end, is an internal bank, 4.5m wide and approximately 0.5m in height. A fourth arm of the outer moat, on the north- western side, has been filled in, although it survives as buried feature and the line of its outer edge is preserved in a drainage ditch. An L-shaped internal pond, up to 2m deep and with arms approximately 30m in length, defines the north and east sides of a rectangular enclosure within the south-western angle of the outer moat, and the southern end of its western arm is connected by a sluice to the southern arm of the moat. The surface of the area within this enclosure is raised approximately 0.5m above the level of the ground surface beyond. The pond and the raised platform have the character of ornamental features within a 16th or early 17th-century formal garden, surrounding the hall and bounded by the outer moat. Opposite the eastern arm of the central moat a third moat, water-filled and measuring 4m to 11m in width, encloses the south and east sides and the north- eastern part of a rectangular platform with internal dimensions of approximately 45m north-south by 40m east-west. The western end of the northern arm of the moat has been filled in, although the infilled section will survive as a buried feature. Immediately alongside the western arm of the third moat, at the southern end, is a sub-rectangular external pond measuring approximately 37m in length and up to 10m in width. The pond, which was probably used for maintaining stocks of fish for domestic use, is connected to the south-eastern corner of the moat by a channel and sluice approximately 1.5m long. A ditch approximately 3m wide, on the south side of this moat and connected to the south-eastern corner, appears to have been an integral part of the water management system and is included in the scheduling. Part of it has been filled in but will survive as a buried feature. On the northern edge of the site is a large, irregular pond of modern date and the southern edge of this, which encroaches on the edge of the moated site across a line between the opposed ends of the northern arms of the two outer moats, is not included in the scheduling. A pheasant-rearing pen, located to the south of the inner moat, is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Barker, H R, East Suffolk Illustrated, (1909), Pl.88
Hoppitt, R, Suffolk SMR: Burgh Parish File, BUG 003, (1976)
Suffolk Record Office: Suffolk Moats K417/21-22, (1894)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Old Series TM 2353 Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Old Series TM 2353 Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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