Moated site of Barsham Hall and remains of associated buildings


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018968

Date first listed: 03-Apr-2000


Ordnance survey map of Moated site of Barsham Hall and remains of associated buildings
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Suffolk

District: Waveney (District Authority)

Parish: Barsham

National Park: THE BROADS

National Grid Reference: TM 39556 90291, TM 39600 90404


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 of Barsham Hall is a good example of a manorial moat and the documentation relating to the history of the site gives it additional interest. Although there has been limited disturbance caused by later building on the site, the deposits within the moat and on the central platform, together with the remains of associated buildings, will contain archaeological information concerning the construction and occupation of the site during the medieval and early post-medieval periods to supplement and clarify the historical record.


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


The monument, which is in two separate areas of protection, is situated on low ground on the south side of the Waveney valley, approximately 750m NNW of Holy Trinity Church. It includes the moated site of Barsham Hall and the remains of a circular building known as Blennerhasset's Tower, located some 110m to the south of the moat and believed to have been a dovecote of medieval or early post-medieval date.

The first area of protection contains the moat, which encloses the west, north and east sides of a rectangular central platform raised up to 2m above the level of the prevailing ground to the east and measuring about 57m north-south by 55m east-west. The southern side of the platform is marked at its eastern end by a low, south facing scarp probably marking the inner edge of an infilled southern arm of the moat which will survive as a buried feature. The visible parts of the moat are up to 10m wide and have become largely infilled on the north and east sides, where the outer edges are marked by a low scarp up to 0.5m high. The western arm contains a modern drainage ditch with an outlet to the north.

The main part of Barsham Hall which stood on the moated platform is said to have been built by the Echinghams who held Barsham Manor during the 15th and early 16th centuries, although the manor is recorded in Domesday Book (1086), and it is likely that there are remains of earlier buildings on the moated site. According to a map and sketch dated 1719 it occupied the southern half of the moated platform and was `E' shaped in plan, aligned east-west. A photograph of the west wall of the west wing shows blocked and altered window and door openings of a type consistent with a 15th century or early 16th century date. The manor was sold by Thomas Blennerhasset in 1598 and subsequently purchased in 1623 by Sir John Suckling, who was Secretary of State, Comptroller of the Household and Privy Councillor under James I and Charles I. The eastern half of the hall was demolished by Robert Suckling some time between 1802 and 1812, but Alfred Suckling, the local historian and grandson of Robert Suckling, records that it included a great hall rising to the full height of the house, a court room with chamber over, a withdrawing room and a staircase lighted with stained glass windows. The western part of the hall, by then divided into two cottages, was demolished around 1948 and nothing of it is now visible above ground, although buried foundations are known to survive within the moated site. The buried footings of a wall run northwards from what was approximately the mid-point of the late medieval hall and produce clear parch marks in dry weather. Substantial flint masonry footings of a parallel wall to the west of it were noted and partly removed during works on the site in the 1990s. Small areas of flint masonry which can be seen exposed on the inner edges of the eastern and northern arms of the moat may relate to other buildings of medieval date. Suckling also refers to a tower ascended by a spiral stair which stood near the entrance on the east side of the moat. The map of 1719 shows a rectangular enclosure adjoining the southern side of the moat and containing a building with a conical roof which corresponds to the description of the tower, situated about 32m to the south of the eastern end of the hall and 6m to the south of the estimated line of the infilled southern arm of the moat. As it is probable that buried remains of this structure survive, this area is included in the scheduling. The 18th century map also shows the building now known as Old Hall, standing on the east side of the rectangular enclosure. This was originally a banqueting hall and carries a stone with the date 1563 and the arms of the Blennerhassets, who acquired the manor by marriage in the second quarter of the 16th century. It was subsequently used as a barn and has now been converted into two dwellings and is a Listed Building Grade II. The northern end, which extends across what is thought to be the line of the buried southern arm of the moat and is within the area of protection, is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

The second area of protection contains the flint masonry footings and buried remains of Blennerhasset's Tower, which is believed to have been a dovecote associated with the hall. The footings now stand to a height of about 0.3m. The building, which was about 10m in diameter and had a conical roof, is also shown on the 18th century map. It was used in later years as a granary, was reduced in height and reroofed around 1895, and finally demolished around 1948.

That part of the hall where it extends into the area of protection, a modern outbuilding to the east of it, a modern barn with lean-to extensions within the moated area, the supports of play apparatus and elevated play houses to the west of the barn, modern fence and gate posts, a sewage treatment plant adjacent to the southern end of the west arm of the moat, garden furniture and modern paving and path surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all 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: 30580

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Copinger, A W, The Manors of Suffolk, Volume 7, (1911)
Suckling, A I, The History and Antiquities of Suffolk, (1846), 46
Suckling, F H, 'East Anglian Miscellany' in East Anglian Miscellany No 5683, (1920)
Blennerhassett's Tower, Old Hall, Barsham, (1900)
Farrer, E, East Anglian Miscellany No.5598, 5605, 5612, 5614, 5620, 5625, (1919)
Suckling, F H, Some Notes on Barsham juxta Beccles, 1906,
Suffolk RO(Lowestoft) Ref PH-S/BAR/12, Barsham Old Hall, (1930)
Title: Source Date: 1719 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: In possession of Mrs B Suckling?

End of official listing