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Hindringham Hall moated site with adjacent fishponds

List Entry Summary

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.

Name: Hindringham Hall moated site with adjacent fishponds

List entry Number: 1017671


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: North Norfolk

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Hindringham

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 16-Jan-1998

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 21439

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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.

Fishponds are artificially created pools of slow-moving fresh water constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish to provide a constant and sustainable supply of food. They may be dug into the ground, embanked above ground level, or formed by placing a dam across a narrow valley. Groups of up to 12 ponds, variously arranged in a single line or in a cluster and joined by leats, have been recorded. The ponds may be of the same size or of several different sizes, with each pond being stocked with different species or ages of fish. The size of the pond was related to function, with large ponds thought to have had a storage capability, whilst smaller, shallower ponds were used for fish cultivation and breeding. Fishponds were maintained by a water management system which included inlet and outlet channels carrying water from a river or stream, a series of sluices set into the bottom of the dam and along the channels and leats, and an overflow leat which controlled fluctuations in water flow and prevented flooding. Buildings for use by fishermen or for the storage of equipment, and islands possibly used for fishing, wildfowl management or as shallow spawning areas are also recorded.

The tradition of constructing and using fishponds in England began during the medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. They were largely built by the wealthy sectors of society, with monastic institutions and royal residences often having large and complex fishponds. The difficulties of obtaining fresh meat in the winter and the value placed on fish in terms of its protein content and as a status food may have been factors which favoured the development of fishponds and made them so valuable. The practice of constructing fishponds declined after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, although in some areas it continued into the 17th century. Most fishponds fell out of use during the post-medieval period, although some were reused as ornamental features in 19th and early 20th century landscape parks or gardens, or as watercress beds.

Documentary sources provide a wealth of information about the way fishponds were stocked and managed. The main species of fish kept were eel, tench, pickerel, bream, perch and roach. Large quantities of fish could be supplied at a time. Once a year, probably in the spring, ponds were drained and cleared.

Fishponds are widely scattered throughout England and extend into Scotland and Wales. The majority are found in central, eastern and southern parts and in areas with heavy clay soils. Fewer fishponds are found in coastal areas and in parts of the country rich in natural lakes and streams, where other sources of fresh fish were available. Although 17th century manuals suggest that areas of waste ground were suitable for fishponds, in practice it appears that most were located close to villages, manors or monasteries, or within parks, so that a watch could be kept on them to prevent poaching.

Although approximately 2000 examples are recorded nationally, this is thought to be only a small proportion of those in existence in medieval times. Despite being relatively common, fishponds are important for their associations with other classes of medieval monuments and in providing evidence of site economy.

Hindringham Hall moated site and the adjacent fishponds survive well, with the remains of the associated water management system which links them. The relationship between the two is of particular interest, as is the documented connection with Norwich priory. The earthworks and deposits on the moated island and associated with the fishponds will retain archaeological information concerning the construction and use of the site and the management of the fishponds. Organic materials, including evidence for the local environment, are likely to be preserved, also, in waterlogged deposits in the ponds, which are not known to have been maintained for use since the 18th century or earlier. Evidence for prior land use will also survive in soils buried beneath the retaining banks around the ponds.


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


The monument includes a manorial moated site and an adjacent system of fishponds with associated water management features, situated on a slight south and east facing slope on the eastern side of the village of Hindringham. Both moat and fishponds are terraced into the slope with a scarp approximately 1.5m high to the north, the fishponds occupy an area about 18m to the west of the moat at a slightly lower level.

The moat surrounds a sub-rectangular island with maximum dimensions of approximately 81m north west-south east by 60m. Hindringham Hall, which stands at the centre of the island, is Listed Grade II* and is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is included. It is built on an `E' plan, facing SSW, with a central hall and projecting wings at either end, and is dated largely to the second half of the 16th century, although the eastern wing is thought to be earlier in date. A lease of 1568 refers to `..the buildings, houses, edifices etc. now being edified and builded as well within the moyte as without the moyte..' implying that there are likely to be buried remains of other, contemporary buildings in the area immediately surrounding the moat; there are also documentary references to a gatehouse, although nothing of this remains above ground. Garden walls of brick and flint, incorporating niches and blocked openings, extend NNE and SSW of the eastern wall of the hall, and are considered to be contemporary with it, these are included in the scheduling.

The moat itself ranges in width between about 12m on the eastern side and 18m on the west and is water-filled, fed via an inlet which issues into the southern end of the eastern arm from a stream running in a channel westwards alongside the outer edge of the southern arm. The flow of water is controlled by a modern sluice which is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it, which may include remains of an earlier structure, is included. A short projection of the southern arm beyond the south western corner probably relates to an original outlet connected to the adjacent fishponds. Much of the lower part of the inner edge of the moat is revetted by a low flint wall, above which the ground slopes back to the level platform of the central island. The southern arm is crossed by a brick-built bridge supported on two arches which provides the principal access to the interior. This bridge includes bricks of early post-medieval type and, although it shows evidence of modern reconstruction and repair, is likely to include remains of a structure contemporary with the 16th century house and is therefore included in the scheduling. On the southern bank of the adjacent stream, opposite the south western angle of the moat, there is a large block of flint masonry which probably represents remains of part of one of the adjacent structures mentioned in historical documents, and this feature is also included. A large and heavy oak frame is said to have been found at a depth of approximately 1.5m at the south west corner of the moat adjacent to this feature.

The fishponds, which have become silted but remain partly waterlogged, are visible as five rectilinear hollows between about 0.5m and 1m in depth and ranging from about 10m to 15m in width and up to 75m in length. They are contained within a quadrangular enclosure bounded on the north side by the scarp of the terrace, on the east side by a slighter scarp, and on the south and west sides by the channelled stream. Four of the ponds are ranged parallel to the four sides of the enclosure, on approximately the same alignments as the corresponding arms of the moat, and the fifth runs east-west across the centre. The outer edges of the southern and western ponds are retained by a bank about 1m in height and 10m wide. Short channels, which probably contained sluices originally, connect the two ends of the western pond to the adjacent ends of the northern and southern ponds. An east-west drain, approximately 3m in width, has been cut within the hollow of the central pond to carry the overflow from the moat, issuing through a culvert from an outlet with sluice on the outer edge of the western arm. (The culvert and sluice are modern and are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included).

At the time of the Domesday survey the manor of Hindringham was held by the bishop of East Anglia, then based in Thetford, and in 1094 it was given by Herbert de Losinga, the first Norman bishop of Norwich, to the monks of Norwich priory which he founded. After the dissolution of the monastery in 1539, it remained in the possession of the Dean and Chapter of Norwich cathedral until the later 19th century.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are Hindringham Hall, the modern sluice and culvert, a staff house to the north of Hindringham Hall, all associated outbuildings, all modern drive and path surfaces and modern paving, all inspection chambers, including a mud trap to the east of the staff house, garden features, including brick steps and associated walled area at the south west corner of the central island, and brick walling above the flint revetment on the inner edge of the northern arm of the moat, a concrete jetty on the inner edge of the western arm, a modern footbridge across the northern arm and a brick built bridge across the stream at the outer south western angle of the moat, walls around a vegetable garden to the north of the moat, and all modern fence posts and gates around and within the area of the moat and fishponds; the ground beneath all these 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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Gossselin, G J H, 'Norfolk Archaeol' in Hindringham Hall, , Vol. 23, (1926), lxxxii
Title: Plan of Dean and Chapter estate, Hindringham: NRO DCN 127/75 Source Date: 1739 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Tithe Map: NRO PD/565/39/H Source Date: 1839 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Tithe Map: NRO PD/565/39/H Source Date: 1839 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

National Grid Reference: TF 97825 36648


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End of official listing