Medieval tower and wall at Dilham Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017668

Date first listed: 16-Jan-1998


Ordnance survey map of Medieval tower and wall at Dilham Hall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: North Norfolk (District Authority)

Parish: Dilham

National Grid Reference: TG 33395 26234


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

Reasons for Designation

Fortified houses were residences belonging to some of the richest and most powerful members of society. Their design reflects a combination of domestic and military elements. In some instances, the fortifications may be cosmetic additions to an otherwise conventional high status dwelling, giving a military aspect while remaining practically indefensible. They are associated with individuals or families of high status and their ostentatious architecture often reflects a high level of expenditure. The nature of the fortification varies, but can include moats, curtain walls, a gatehouse and other towers, gunports and crenellated parapets. Their buildings normally included a hall used as communal space for domestic and administrative purposes, kitchens, service and storage areas. In later houses the owners had separate private living apartments, these often receiving particular architectural emphasis. In common with castles, some fortified houses had outer courts beyond the main defences in which stables, brew houses, granaries and barns were located. Fortified houses were constructed in the medieval period, primarily between the 15th and 16th centuries, although evidence from earlier periods, such as the increase in the number of licences to crenellate in the reigns of Edward I and Edward II, indicates that the origins of the class can be traced further back. They are found primarily in several areas of lowland England: in upland areas they are outnumbered by structures such as bastles and tower houses which fulfilled many of the same functions. As a rare monument type, with fewer than 200 identified examples, all examples exhibiting significant surviving archaeological remains are considered of national importance.

The medieval tower at Dilham Hall is a good example of a high status building of this type and displays late medieval flint masonry of high quality. With the attached length of walling it is the only part of the fortified house known to remain standing above ground, but gives a clear indication of the character of the original whole. The historically documented links between Sir Henry Inglose, the probable builder, and Sir John Fastolfe and the Paston family give the monument additional interest.


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


The monument, which is situated in the grounds of Dilham Hall, NNE of Dilham village, includes a medieval tower bonded to the remains of a contemporary wall. The wall and the tower, which is Listed Grade II, are dated to the 15th century and thought to have formed part of the outer wall of a fortified house, probably built by Sir Henry Inglose, Lord of the Manor, (died 1451) who was a friend and relative of Sir John Fastolfe, the builder of Caister Castle. It is likely that the fortified house was designed in part to serve a practical defensive purpose, although there is no certain evidence that it was ever attacked. Local unrest during this period and the threat of French incursions along the coast 8.5km to the east are, however, chronicled in the Paston Letters. The tower, which stands to almost the full original height of two storeys with a parapet above, faces north. In plan, it forms five sides of a regular octagon. The attached wall from which it projects extends up to approximately 5.8m west of the tower and 3.7m to the east but has been cut down in steps so as to form buttress-like projections. The tower and the original parts of the wall are constructed chiefly of flint with ashlar dressings. Both stand on a plinth of coursed flint about 1m in height with brick quoins at the angles of the tower and a chamfered stone offset. Above the offset they are faced with closely set knapped flint and galetting (flint chips embedded in mortar), with ashlar quoins, and the bond between the tower and wall is reinforced at intervals on the outer face with brick of medieval type. The east and west faces of the tower are pierced by internally splayed slit windows at ground and first floor level, and the north face by wider rectangular windows, in the stone surrounds of which there are holes for metal bars. A series of corbels project from the angles and each face of the tower below the parapet. The interior of the ground floor is vaulted in brick. The highest parts of the wall to east and west of the tower survive to first floor level and retain fragments of a stone string course or weathering; the lower parts display blocked rectangular openings, one on either side, immediately above the offset. The tower was restored some time before 1904, and the remains of the adjoining wall were refaced on the south side and capped with brick and cement. The rear (south) wall of the tower, which includes a round arched doorway at ground floor level and a rectangular opening above it giving access to the first floor, is constructed largely of post-medieval and modern brick with cement rendering and is supported by brick buttresses. Fragments of an earlier flint wall are, however, visible on the interior face over the modern opening at first floor level and much of the original parapet, including the outer facing, survives above this. To the east of the tower, and included in the scheduling, is a niche formed by the remains of a medieval window with broken tracery reset into the modern facing of the attached wall. It is possible that Dilham Hall, 11m south of the tower which dates to the 19th century and later, overlies remains of the earlier fortified medieval house, the remains of whose outer defensive wall are thought to comprise this monument although this has not been confirmed. A second tower, of which nothing visible remains above ground, is said to have stood 35m to the south of the monument, although nothing of it is known to survive above ground and the precise location is uncertain. Dilham Hall and the second tower are therefore not included in the scheduling. Modern brick additions to either end of the wall flanking the tower, which extend about 0.7m beyond the end of the remains of the original flint masonry are excluded from the scheduling, as is the southern end of a modern breeze block wall which abuts the north east angle of the tower, and stone paving in the area to the west of this, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 1 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: 21413

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Brittain, H, 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Dilham `Castle', , Vol. 15, (1904), 190-193
NMR TG 32 NW 3, (1973)
Unpublished: quoted in source [1], Norris, A, History of Tunstead,

End of official listing