Earl Soham Lodge moated site and fishponds


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011328

Date first listed: 09-Nov-1993


Ordnance survey map of Earl Soham Lodge moated site and fishponds
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Suffolk

District: Suffolk Coastal (District Authority)

Parish: Earl Soham

National Grid Reference: TM 23221 63479, TM 23326 63445


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

Earl Soham Lodge moated site survives well and is a very good example of a moated domestic enclosure situated in a prominent and relatively high position. It displays a wide range of features, including the visible remains of substantial 15th or 16th century buildings on the site, in addition to that incorporated in the standing structure of the Lodge. The documented association of the manor with Framlingham and the Dukes of Norfolk adds further interest to the site, which probably served as a hunting lodge.

The fishponds associated with the moated site were created as artificial pools of slow moving water, the flow of which was controlled by sluices and overflow channels, utilising the natural fall of the land. They were constructed for the purpose of managing fresh-water fish stocks and form an important part of the domestic complex on the site. The principal elements of the water management system survive well, and organic material, including evidence concerning the local environment, will be contained in waterlogged deposits in the ponds.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a moated site and associated fishponds, situated on a spur overlooking the village of Earl Soham to the south and east. The monument is contained within two separate areas. The moated site includes a sub-circular island surrounded by a water-filled moat between 2m and 2.5m deep and varying in width between 10m on the north west side and 17m on the south east, the overall dimensions being 95m north west - south east by 90m north east - south west. The moat is crossed on the south east side by a 16th century brick-built bridge listed Grade II supported on two arches and on the north west side by a causeway which does not appear to be original. Immediately to the west of the bridge, the southern side of the moat has been extended to form a shallow, sub-rectangular horse-pond. The Grade II* listed house which stands on the island includes parts which are dated to the 16th century and evidence of a more extensive building of 16th century or earlier date is visible on the adjacent south west side of the moat. Here, the inner edge of the moat west of the bridge is faced for a length of approximately 40m with a brick wall, from which project the footings of two large brick bays and, to the east of them, the base of a polygonal brick turret. There is a blocked arch in the wall east of the latter and, beyond the western end of the wall, the base of a second polygonal structure projects onto the moat. The bridge, together with these associated walls and structures, which are also listed Grade II, are included in the scheduling. Substantial foundations have also been noted beneath flower beds behind the wall. Parts of the inner edge of the moat north west of the second polygonal structure and also to the north east of the bridge, are revetted in brick.

Approximately 30m east of the moat is a flight of three parallel, rectangular fish ponds, terraced into a gradual, south-facing slope. An outlet from the east side of the moat, piped beneath a field gate, leads into the north western end of the westernmost and largest pond, which measures approximately 32m north - south by 15m east west, and a channel 2m wide issues from the lower, south eastern corner of this to feed the middle and lower ponds, which measure 19m north - south by 8m east - west and 45m north - south by 8m east - west respectively. A part of an outlet channel, approximately 6m long and 5m wide, survives on the eastern side of the lower pond. All three ponds are silted, but the two larger are seasonally wet. Their estimated maximum depth is between 2.5m and 3.5m. The southern end of this system is bounded by a low earthen bank, approximately 0.5m in height.

The manor of Earl Soham was purchased in the mid 12th century by Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk and thereafter went with the manor of Framlingham until the end of the 16th century. During the 15th century and for much of the 16th century it formed part of the estates of the Dukes of Norfolk, first of the Mowbray family, then of the Howards. The manor, including Earl Soham Lodge and the park in which it stood was then sold by Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk to John Cornwallis (died 1615).

The house and all existing outbuildings within the moated area, and all garden walls, other than the walls, revetment and associated structures on the inner faces of the moat as described above, are excluded from the scheduling, as are all yard surfaces and driveways, a lamp post which stands in the yard to the east of the house, the modern concrete blocks which reinforce the outer bank of the moat on the western side, and all fences and field boundaries; the ground beneath these buildings and features is, however, 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: 21297

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Copinger, W A, History of the Manors of Suffolk, (1909), 251-253
Farrer, E, 'East Anglian Miscellany' in Earl Soham Lodge, , Vol. 9, (1915), 40
H B M C Listing: Earl Soham, TM26SW 8/29,
Hinton, B N, (1992)

End of official listing