Moated site at the vicarage of St Peter and St Paul's Church


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Moated site at the vicarage of St Peter and St Paul's Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Mid Suffolk (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TM 18066 77544

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 at The Vicarage survives well and will retain archaeological evidence for its construction and subsequent occupation during the medieval period. The possibility that it was originally occupied by a bishop's palace and the likelihood that it also contains evidence relating to an earlier Saxon minster gives the monument particular interest.


The monument includes a moated site adjacent to St Peter and St Paul's Church at the northern end of the village of Hoxne. It has been suggested that this was originally the site of the palace of the Bishops of Norwich in Hoxne, although by the 14th century the palace was located within the New Park, on the opposite side of the road which runs past the western side of the moat.

The moat, which ranges from about 7.5m to 12m in width and contains water, borders the north and west sides of a rectangular central platform measuring approximately 88m north-south by 55m, and continues around the south western corner and along the northern part of the east side. The southern end of the eastern side of the platform abuts the western boundary of the churchyard, and the moat may never have extended the full length of that side, but it is likely that it originally extended along the whole of the southern side and that the infilled eastern part of the southern arm survives as a buried feature.

The Vicarage, which is a Listed Building Grade II, dated in parts to the 15th century and to the early to mid-16th century, stands near the centre of the moated site.

There was a church in Hoxne, dedicated to St Ethelbert, before the Conquest, and an episcopal see was established here following the disruption of the Danish incursion in the later 9th century. Both the church and the episcopal see are documented in the will of Bishop Theodred of East Anglia and London, dated to around AD 950, in which he refers to his `bishopric' in Hoxne. It is clear from the will that the church was a minster, or mother church for a large area, served by a community of priests, and the community of priests is referred to again in the will of Bishop Aelfric in 1035-1038. The Domesday survey of 1086 confirms the existence of the episcopal see before 1066 and records that it was within a manor held by Bishop Aelfric before 1066 and by William, Bishop of Thetford thereafter. It is probable that the minster was on the site of the present church and the community of priests would have lived adjacent to it. Bishop Herbert de Losinga gave the church to the monks of the priory he founded at Norwich and, according to Blomefield, the 18th century historian, the monks of the priory, which was subsequently founded in Hoxne in the 12th century, were housed at first at the bishop's palace, before removing to the precinct constructed around the chapel of St Edmund about 1km to the south of the church. The size of the moated site, which is larger than those usually associated with rectories, suggests that it was of some importance and is consistent with it having been at one time the site of the bishop's palace.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: the Vicarage, all garden walls, fences, inspection chambers, service poles, paving, yard surfaces and the surface of the driveway; however 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Evans, M C, 'Proc Suffolk Inst Archaeol' in The Contribution of Hoxne to the Cult of St Edmund, , Vol. 36 Pt 3, (1987), 183


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.

End of official listing

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