Post-medieval deer park, medieval fishpond, 18th century triumphal arch and a 19th century lead mine, ore works and smelt mill at Boringdon Park


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


Ordnance survey map of Post-medieval deer park, medieval fishpond, 18th century triumphal arch and a 19th century lead mine, ore works and smelt mill at Boringdon Park
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

City of Plymouth (Unitary Authority)
South Hams (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SX 52743 58457, SX 52822 57821, SX 53134 58736, SX 53214 58479, SX 53624 58051

Reasons for Designation

Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house, castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features, including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch. Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks, between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive today, although often altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home Counties. Deer parks were a long-lived and widespread monument type. Today they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of medieval nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well-documented or associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally identified as nationally important.

Despite slight damage, the surviving sections of pale at Boringdon Park retain important features relating to the development and use of the site. Stratified archaeological deposits are likely to survive in the ditches and beneath the banks contributing to the future understanding of the monument. The inclusion of a medieval fish pond within the park is an unusual feature, as such ponds seldom continue in use after the 16th century. The monumental arch at the south western corner of the park is a rare example of landscape design work by the architect Robert Adam. Nucleated lead mines are a prominent type of field monument produced by lead mining. They consist of adits, shafts, associated spoil tips and remains of buildings. These can include engine houses for pumping or winding, housing, workshops and offices, powder houses, power transmission features such as flat rod systems, and water power and supply features such as wheel pits, dams and leats. The nucleated lead mine at Boringdon Park Mine is well-preserved, its pithead buildings, dressing floors and water supply reservoirs being unusual survivals. The earthworks of several shafts and their tips clearly show the line of the workings. Lead ore works were an essential part of a lead mining site, where the ore and waste rock from the mine were separated to form a smeltable concentrate. The field evidence of ore works includes remains of crushing devices, separating tanks, tips of distinctive waste from the various processes, together with associated water supply and power installations, such as wheel pits. Two areas within Boringdon Park Wood contain well-preserved evidence for both the crushing and settling processes. The large dressing floor with the site of the stamps and water wheel, fed by a large reservoir, is an unusual combination of structures, while the settling tanks further down the valley are particularly well-preserved. Their buried remains will retain information relating to the construction and use of the site. Ore hearth smelt mills were introduced in the 16th century and continued to develop until the late 19th century. The ore hearth was a low open structure, where lead ore was mixed with fuel. An air blast was supplied by bellows, normally worked by a water wheel. Lead rich slags from this first smelting were reworked in a separate hearth, usually within the building. Flues, condensers and chimneys carried the fumes away and were usually accessible for the retrieval of metal rich soot. Despite its partial burial, the ore hearth smelt mill, flue and chimney stack in Boringdon Park Wood are well-preserved, and are an important survival in an area where smelt mills are very rare.


This monument, which falls into five separate areas of protection, includes parts of the earthwork pale surrounding a post-medieval deer park of 1699, a medieval fish pond, a medieval wood bank, a triumphal arch, a 19th century lead mine, and settling ponds of an associated ore works with an adjoining smelt mill. The park occupies a shallow valley forming a tributary of the River Plym. It covers an area of 88ha and is irregular in plan, measuring a maximum of 1.38km from east to west and 1.06km from north to south. The pale, which survives best along the north and south west sides of Boringdon Park Wood, is in the form of an earth bank between 1m and 1.5m high and 2m wide, sloping down to an outer ditch 2m wide and 0.2m deep. On the inner face of this bank is a stone wall. Occasionally the bank is separated from the ditch by a flat berm measuring 1m wide. A large medieval fish pond, which belonged to Plympton Priory, is enclosed by the park pale at the western end of Boringdon Park Wood. Its earth dam, which measures 15m wide and up to 2m high is crossed by a medieval road leading to Plym Bridge. An 18th century stone wall dividing the road from the pond is pierced by a low gateway with a flat granite arch. This gave access from the road to the pond for fishermens' boats. At the east end of the medieval fish pond, two large stone lined settling tanks with sluices in their sides formed part of a lead ore works constructed in 1846 to refine lead ore for smelting. The stream which feeds the fish pond passes between these tanks and a rectangular building to their south, which contained an ore hearth smelt mill. A water wheel at its west end, fed by a leat from further up the valley, supplied an air blast to a furnace at the east end of the building. A stone lined flue climbing the valley side for 50m to the east has slate cover slabs which could be removed to collect metal rich particles. A stone chimney stack with a brick upper stands 5m high at the east end of this flue. Parts of the northern section of the pale are adjoined by a small 19th century quarry and an inclined plane belonging to the Lee Moor Tramway. The tramway embankment and lower end of the cutting have cut away parts of the park pale. The embankment, cutting and inclined plane all lie outside the scheduling. A medieval woodbank 300m long divides the northern part of Boringdon Park Wood and survives as an earth bank aligned north to south, measuring 6m wide and 1m high, with a ditch on its west side 3m wide and 0.5m deep. A brick triumphal arch at the south west corner of the park was designed by Robert Adam in 1782 and built in 1783 as an eyecatcher for Saltram House, 2km to the south west. The arch is 12m high and framed by a Roman Doric portico supported by paired pillars. Lower flanking walls have blind porticos and plain pilasters to the ends. The single storied lodge buildings behind are also of brick, with a stone built wing to the west, these are included in the scheduling with the arch. The arch and the attached buildings are Listed Grade II*. A road formerly passed through the gate and ran along the west side of the park. Its course was later moved 75m to the east and a new section of park pale constructed along its east side. Extensive workings belonging to a 19th century lead mine known as Boringdon Park Mine are included in the scheduling. The mine was worked at intervals between 1820 and 1857. The surface remains include a series of shafts and their associated tips and horse whim platforms, following the lode from a point just south east of Miners' Cottage, to the main engine shaft 450m to the east. Here, a large tip lies south west of the remains of an engine house and associated buildings, lying alongside a shallow pit which marks the site of the engine shaft. A stone walled structure immediately east of the shaft measures 5m long, 3m wide and 2.5m high and contained a timber balance box which counterbalanced the weight of the pumping rods in the shaft. Flat rods continued for 420m to the east to pumps in a shaft known as Flat Rod Shaft, where another large tip survives. Two large rectangular embanked reservoirs on the hillside to the east of the engine shaft supplied water for the boiler of the pumping engine and a 35 foot (10.6m) diameter water wheel which drove crushing equipment on a rectangular platform 60m to the west. An ore breaking floor to its west is 100m long and 25m wide with a cobbled surface, its extensive dumps falling up to 4m into the valley floor to the south and west. To the north, a range of buildings includes the remains of the mine captain's house at the west end, a smithy in the centre, and a room for drying miners' clothes at the east end. Parts of the boiler and its furnace doors survive. A small office with a fireplace is set back into the hillside between the dry and the smithy. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: all fence posts, road and track surfaces, a pair of 17th century gate piers, Listed Grade II*, a pair of 18th century granite gate piers which are Listed Grade II* and the triumphal arch. The ground beneath all these features is, however, included. In addition, all recorded pipelines and the ground immediately above them is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath and to either side 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:


List description, English Heritage, (1975)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)


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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