Lion Point decoy 810m south east of Cockett Wick Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016864

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1999


Ordnance survey map of Lion Point decoy 810m south east of Cockett Wick Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Tendring (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: TM 13941 13292


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

Reasons for Designation

Decoy ponds are artificially created or modified pools of water onto which wildfowl were lured to be trapped and killed for food and for feathers. They consist of a central pool off which lead a number of curving arms or ditches, known as pipes. Nets were constructed over the narrowing ends of these pipes towards which the birds were lured by the decoyman and his dog. Screens were erected along the sides of the pipes with carefully placed gaps so that the dog would be visible to the birds only when his appearance would lead the birds towards the nets at the ends of the pipes. Once at the ends the nets would be dropped and the decoyman was able to wring the birds' necks. The tradition of constructing such ponds appears to have begun in the medieval period, with the simplest designs indicating an early date. The more familiar decoy pond, however, is said to have originated in Holland and to have been introduced into England in the 17th century. The word `decoy' is said to derive from the Dutch `eendenkooi' meaning `duck cage'. Their greatest popularity came in the 18th and 19th centuries when large numbers were built, with a small number continuing in use until World War II. The ideal size for a decoy pond was between 1ha and 5ha with a depth of water of not more than a metre. The number of pipes varies from one to more than five, often arranged in symmetrical patterns around the central pool. Although once common features of lowland England (being particularly associated with the east and south east coasts), modern drainage has modified or destroyed all but a few examples. Most examples which survive in a near-complete state of preservation will be considered of national importance and worthy of protection.

There was a second and completely different kind of decoy, which was designed for capturing pochards. The pochard is a diving bird, so were rarely caught in pipes because they did not rise when the decoyman appeared. They were instead caught by means of nets fixed to long poles which were weighted down. When the pochards took off into the wind at dusk, or were disturbed by the discharge of a gun, the poles and nets were released so they sprang upright. The pochards hit the net, fell into pens or trenches at the bottom, and were secured.

The decoy 810m south east of Cockett Wick Farm, known as Lion Point Decoy, is a rare example of a rectangular pochard pond, dating from the mid-19th century and surviving in good condition.

The history of pochard ponds is more obscure than that of ordinary decoys; there may well have been a number of them within the Essex marshland as documentary evidence suggests that they were as productive as the more usual type and would therefore have made a significant contribution to the marshland economy during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Although we know of several other decoys in Essex which could be furnished with nets on poles to catch pochards, this is the only known surviving example of a specialised pochard pond.


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


The monument includes an elongated decoy known as Lion Point Decoy, designed for trapping pochard, located some 810m south east of Cockett Wick Farm and 500m inland from the beach at Lion Point. The decoy takes the shape of a rectanglar pond, some 100m by 25m, with a single curving arm at its north western corner and enclosed by a rectangular ditch. The pond is dug approximately 1m below ground level and contains a small amount of water. The water-filled enclosing ditch is linked to the decoy by a single drain connecting their south eastern sides. The long sides of the decoy between the pond and enclosing ditch are flanked by substantial banks some 2m high, probably formed from the upcast of the pond and used to conceal the decoymen during operation. Not worked within living memory, the decoy is thought to have been constructed around 1860, and appears on an Ordnance Survey 6 inch map by 1874.

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: 32412

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Glegg, W E, 'Vol XXVII Essex Naturalist' in The Duck Decoys of Essex, , Vol. 27-part7, (1943), 191-225
1:10 000 NMR Plot, Ingle, C, TM11SW, (1996)
Gramolt, D.W, The Coastal Marshland of East Essex, 1960, Thesis submitted for M.A., London
Strachan, D, CP/96/73/15, (1996)
Title: Ordnance Survey Map Source Date: 1874 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Tyler, S, MPP3/9-14, (1998)
Tyler, S, Notes on site visit to Lion Point Decy, (1998)

End of official listing