Moated site and site of St Nicholas' church immediately east of Church Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018365

Date first listed: 18-Mar-1998


Ordnance survey map of Moated site and site of St Nicholas' church immediately east of Church Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 12-Dec-2018 at 21:41:32.


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

County: Suffolk

District: Waveney (District Authority)

Parish: All Saints and St. Nicholas, South Elmham

National Grid Reference: TM 32224 82880


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.

The moated site survives well and remains unencumbered by modern building as does the adjacent site of St Nicholas' church. The monument will retain archaeological information concerning the construction and use of the moated site during the medieval period, and of the medieval church with which it is associated. Organic materials, including evidence for the local environment in the past, are likely to be preserved in waterlogged deposits in the moat. The location of the church and moated site alongside the site of one of the medieval greens which were a typical feature of this part of the Waveney Valley, and which were foci of settlement during the medieval period, is of particular interest for the study of local landscape history and of the social and economic organisation of the population of the region during the medieval period.


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


The monument is situated immediately to the north east of the site of St Nicholas Green, and includes the moated site of what was probably a medieval rectory and the adjoining site of a medieval churchyard containing the buried remains of St Nicholas' church. The moated site, which is rectangular in plan and has overall dimensions of approximately 55m north east-south west by 43m, is aligned parallel to, and set about 20m back from a minor road along what was formerly the north side of the green. It is terraced into a slight, south facing slope, so that the surface of the interior of the enclosure is lower than the ground level to the north of the moat. The moat which encloses the central platform on the north, west and south sides is for the most part water-filled and ranges in width from approximately 6m to 12m lip to lip, the southern arm being the widest. The eastern arm has been infilled and survives chiefly as a buried feature, marked on the surface by a linear depression approximately 8m wide and 0.5m deep in the ground surface. Access to the interior is provided by a level causeway approximately 9m wide across the eastern end of the southern arm. Maps of the site made in the first half of the 19th century show that a house once stood at the eastern end of the enclosure, opposite the causeway, and evidence for this building will survive below the ground surface although nothing remains visible above.

St Nicholas' church stood immediately to the east of the moated site. The earliest documentary reference to a church here is in the Domesday survey of 1086, and later records show that it was in use until at least the mid-16th century, when the living was joined with that of All Saints (the church of All Saints is situated some 725m to the east). The two parishes were finally consolidated in 1737. The building is said to have been in a state of decay by around 1620, and most of it was demolished in the mid-18th century. One wall remained standing in 1844 and, although nothing of it is now visible, demolition rubble has been recorded on the site and foundations are believed to survive below the ground surface. The location of what is understood to have been the west end of the church is marked by a stone cross which was erected during the 19th century and is included in the scheduling. The remains of the church lie within a plot measuring approximately 63m south west-north east by 43m and formerly known as Church Meadow, the boundaries of which are believed to correspond to the curtilage of the medieval churchyard. The ground surface within this area is raised approximately 0.5m above the level of the road to the south, and human remains are said to have been unearthed here during drainage works in the 19th or early 20th century.

Railings protecting the stone cross, a stand pipe to the west of the moated site, and all modern fences and gates are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 21450

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Newman, J, Moated Site, St Nicholas South Elmham, (1992)
SEN 008,
Title: All Saints & St Nicholas, South Elmham Tithe award map Source Date: 1840 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Walpole, B, (1996)

End of official listing