Moated site and associated fishponds at Wetherden Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019972

Date first listed: 24-Jan-2001


Ordnance survey map of Moated site and associated fishponds at Wetherden Hall
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This copy shows the entry on 15-Nov-2018 at 23:23:27.


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

County: Suffolk

District: Babergh (District Authority)

Parish: Hitcham

National Grid Reference: TL 97196 51002


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 and associated fishponds at Wetherden Hall survive well and represent a good example of a moated domestic enclosure. The site remains largely undisturbed by post-medieval and modern activity and retains buried evidence for the original house towards the south east corner of the island. The brick revetting recorded on the inner edges of the south and east sides of the moat demonstrates the high status of the site, and the 16th century documentary reference adds considerably to the interest of the monument.

The associated fishponds to the east of the moat were created as artificial pools of slow moving freshwater constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish in order to provide a constant and sustainable food supply. The tradition of construction and use of fishponds began in the medieval period and reached a peak of popularity in the 12th century. They were largely the province of the wealthier sectors of society and are considered important as a source of information concerning the economy of various classes of medieval settlements and institutions. The fishponds form an integral part of the medieval manorial complex and provide further evidence of its economy and status. The pond to the west of the moat may represent an ornamental feature associated with the moat, but was perhaps used to conserve a stock of fish.

Comparisons between this site and further examples, both locally and more widely, will provide valuable insights into the developments in the nature of settlement in medieval England.


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site and associated fishponds at Wetherden Hall which is situated approximately 1.2km to the WSW of the village of Hitcham and 1km to the north east of the village of Kettlebaston.

The moated site includes a square island with an average width of 80m which is contained by a waterfilled moat measuring up to 20m in width. A building platform along the northern edge of the island is occupied by a Listed Building Grade II, of timber-framed brick construction and late 16th century origin, known as Old Wetherden Hall. The building platform measures 0.5m above the surrounding island and extends for a further 26m beyond the western end of the building, marking the site of a part of the structure which was standing until 1984. It is thought that this building originally represented a service range ancillary to the main house, the site of which is indicated by traces of brick footings which have been reported towards the east side of the island. The moat is crossed on the west side by a brick built bridge, supported on two arches, the base of which is believed to date from the 16th century. The inner edges of the moat on the south and east sides are revetted with brick, laid in English bond with small projecting buttresses at intervals. It is thought that the brick revetting, which has been dated to the 16th/17th century, is contemporary with both the house on the island and the bridge across the west arm.

Approximately 16m east of the moat are two interconnecting ponds, thought to represent fishponds associated with the moated site. The westernmost pond measures up to 34m north-south by 10m east-west, and is situated at right angles to the infilled easternmost pond which measured up to 22m east-west by 10m north-south. A 2m wide channel, also infilled, originally connected the two ponds. The easternmost pond and the interconnecting channel will survive as buried features, and it is thought that the land between the moat and the fishponds will contain associated buried features, such as a sluice channel. Another pond, rectangular in shape and measuring up to 39m long NNW-SSE by 10m wide, is situated less than 8m to the west of the south west corner of the moat and may have been connected to it originally.

Wetherden Hall is named after Richard Wederton or Witherton who is recorded as making his will in Hitcham in 1461. By 1466 Wetherden Hall was held by Sir Robert Fenys and continued in his family until 1538 by which time it was known as the `manor of Wythertons'. By 1544 Wetherden Hall was in the ownership of George Waldegrave and was inherited by his son William in the 1560s after the death of George's wife, Mary. William died in 1577 and in his will he directed that all the timber he had in `Brettenham hallwood' should be `emploied to Reparacons of the Bridge over the moate and other Reparacons aboute the saide moate'. It is believed that the main house was demolished at some time in the mid-17th century, leaving only the timber-framed brick building along the north side of the island; this is thought to have been used as a farmhouse until it was replaced in the 19th century by a house to the west of the moated site.

The timber-framed brick building known as Old Wetherden Hall, the brick bridge, the conservatory and wooden decking along the north side of the island, the greenhouse, the septic tank and the patio are all 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. 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: 33290

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Copinger, W A, 'The Manors of Suffolk' in Manors of Suffolk, , Vol. 3, (1909), 175
Edward, M, 'Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology' in Two Exceptional Houses in Hitcham: Wetherden Hall, , Vol. XXXVII, (1991), 196-204
16 86 195, Suffolk County Council aerial survey, (1986)
Title: 2nd Edition 25 Inch Ordnance Survey Map Source Date: 1904 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 64.11
Title: 2nd Edition 25" Ordnance Survey Map Source Date: 1904 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 64.11
Title: Tithe Map of Hitcham Source Date: 1841 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: SRO(Bury): T147 A1,2

End of official listing