Medieval settlement around Anmer Hall


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


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

King's Lynn and West Norfolk (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TF 73822 29197

Reasons for Designation

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have gradually evolved during the last 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the Wash sub-Province of the South-eastern Province, an area which can be divided into two parts. The western part is the fenlands with associated marshlands, siltlands and islands, with villages, hamlets and bands of farmsteads and cottages clinging to the slight islands and dykes above land once seasonally flooded. The eastern part embraces the sands and loams of west Norfolk, studded with ancient villages and hamlets, some of them depopulated. To the south lie the Brecklands, an elevated, thinly-settled region.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre of a parish or township, sharing resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but where they survive as earthworks their distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, and enclosed crofts and small paddocks. They frequently included the parish church within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system, most villages include one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains as well as buried deposits. In this region of west Norfolk, east of the Wash, villages are a characteristic feature of the pattern of medieval settlement, and their archaeological remains are an important source of knowledge about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.

The medieval village of Anmer is well documented and a good example of a small village clustered around the parish church and manorial centres. The surviving earthworks around Anmer Hall are well preserved and include a variety of components characteristic of this type of settlement. The visible and buried remains will contain much additional archaeological information concerning the village and the lives of its inhabitants and will, in conjunction with the historical records, contribute to a better understanding of the social organisation and economy of medieval settlement in this region of Norfolk.


The monument includes earthworks and buried remains of a medieval settlement with associated roadways and enclosures situated within a park surrounding Anmer Hall. The roadways and many of the enclosure boundaries correspond to those shown on the tithe map of Anmer which, although drawn in 1851, is evidently copied from a map which predates the creation of the park in the 18th century. A detailed description of the settlement as it appeared at the end of the 16th century is given in a field book, or written survey, compiled in 1600.

At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 the greater part of Anmer was held by Count Eustace of Boulogne as tenant in chief, and a smaller part was held by William de Warrenne. The population at that time included one villein, twelve smallholders and ten freemen. There were subsequently two manors in the township, named as the manor of Anmer and Castlehall or Bereford manor, but by the end of the first quarter of the 17th century both were in the possession of Thomas Norris. In the late 17th century they were conveyed to the Coldham family, who held them throughout the 18th and the first half of the 19th century and were responsible for the building of the present Anmer Hall and the creation of the park around it. The survey of 1600 lists the abandoned sites of two medieval manor houses and a rectory, together with a total of 23 other homesteads, variously described as messuages and `tenements'. Two of the messuages had been combined into one and five others are described as then `void' or unoccupied, which suggests that there had been some decline in the population. The sites of the manor houses and rectory and nine of the messuages and tenements can be identified within the area of protection. There were nine other messuages and tenements and a cottage in the area now occupied by Anmer Hall and the adjoining grounds, which are not included in the scheduling.

The earthworks which mark the sites of the medieval manor houses and the tofts (homestead enclosures), crofts and other features of the medieval and early post-medieval village are ranged along both sides of a street which ran east-west, skirting the southern boundary of the parish churchyard. The line of the street to the east of the churchyard is occupied by a driveway which then diverges around the north side of the churchyard and turns northward, following the line of what was formerly the southern end of the road to Shernborne. The continuation of the village street along the south side of the churchyard can be seen as a linear depression or hollow way, broadening into an open, sunken area to the west of the church. From this sunken area the hollow way issues on a slightly more southerly alignment, increasing in depth to more than 2m, before bending sharply south to merge with the modern road which runs along the western boundary of the park. On the tithe map the part west of the church is named as Sandringham Way, and it corresponds to a road referred to in the field book of 1600 as `Sandringham waie' or `Sandringhamgate'. A much shallower hollow way, now truncated by the modern road bend north westwards in the direction of Sandringham. Another roadway, marked on the tithe map as Flitcham Way and also referred to in the field book, ran southward from the hollow way near the eastern end of the churchyard for a distance of about 175m and then south westwards. The latter section can still be traced as a slightly raised bank or causeway, flanked by ditches which are visible in places as shallow linear depressions. Another hollow way, about 6m wide and 0.4m deep along the eastern edge of the park, can be identified as part of a track named on the tithe map and in the field book of 1600 as `Mill Stye', which ran southward from the village street.

According to the survey of 1600, the site of Anmer Manor lay immediately west of Shernbourne Way and north of Sandringham Way. The location corresponds to that of a group of earthworks which occupy an area of higher ground in the north western part of the monument, west of the church and driveway and bordered on the south side by the main hollow way. The character of the earthworks is consistent with a manorial site. A very regular linear depression about 12m wide and 80m in length, slightly crowned at the centre and with a bank approximately 0.5m high along the south side, is interpreted as a driveway or avenue constituting the formal approach to the house. It leads eastwards from the roadway on the western boundary of the park, terminating on the line of a low but well-defined bank which runs northward and then NNE, forming a boundary around what is thought to be the site of the house and associated outbuildings. From the eastern end of the formal driveway another, less regular linear depression extends NNE, opening onto the lower lying area opposite the church. The probable site of the house is marked by a series of slight rectilinear banks standing on a large, roughly rectangular raised platform situated in the north western corner of the area enclosed by the boundary bank. Immediately to the south of this is a slightly smaller and lower, `L'-shaped platform which probably supported other buildings, and approximately 20m to the south east is a roughly rectangular building platform measuring about 9m across. The turf covered masonry footings of a small building about 6 sq m, possibly a dovecote, can also be seen approximately 50m to the east of the site of the house. A large sub-circular pond cut into the slope at the eastern end of the area, next to the driveway, perhaps had origins as a fishpond. Earthworks to the south of the site of the house have the appearance of formal garden features. One of these is a regular linear depression about 0.5m deep and 6m wide, bordered along the east side by a bank about 0.7m high which extends from the eastern end of the formal driveway southward to the hollow way identified as Sandringham Way. The other, which was perhaps an ornamental pond, is situated immediately to the east of the northern end of this linear feature and takes the form of a rectangular hollow with a bank about 0.5m high around the west, south and east sides.

The site of the rectory, identified from the description in the survey of 1600, is to the south of the church and sunken area, and the site of Castlehall manor adjoins that of the rectory on the west side. The boundary between the two is marked by the slight remains of a north-south ditch which is embanked on both sides towards the southern end, and slight east-west banks mark the southern boundaries. There are no visible traces of buildings within these enclosures, but evidence for occupation in the medieval period is likely to survive in the form of buried features and deposits.

The sites of the nine messuages and tenements are to the north of the church and the driveway to the east of it. The boundaries between the tofts and associated crofts are visible as a series of parallel scarps, banks and slight ditches running back NNE from the line of the street. These are bisected by a discontinuous line of slight scarps and linear hollows about 110m to the north of the street, corresponding to the line of a path recorded on the tithe map. Various mounds and small platforms within the tofts mark the probable sites of buildings. The rear boundary of the westernmost enclosures is defined by a scarp which corresponds to the line of a former trackway, but the remainder are truncated by the later road which skirts the northern boundary of the park.

The probable rear boundaries of the crofts belonging to the messuages and tenements south of the street are defined in part by scarps and banks between 125m and 150m south of the modern drive, but the only other visible features associated with them are a slight, east facing scarp and a broad bank towards the eastern end of this area.

The southern part of the monument, beyond these crofts and the sites of the rectory and Castlehall manor, is subdivided by rectilinear banks into enclosures which match those shown on the tithe map and which probably originated as furlongs in the medieval field system, each of which would have been divided into a series of strips held by different tenants. One of them is distinguished on the tithe map by a field name derived from the name of a furlong described in the survey of 1600. At the southern limit of the monument the enclosures are truncated by a broad ditch, about 1m deep, which is thought to be a later park feature.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the surface of the driveway, all modern fences and gates, service poles, inspection chambers, water troughs and associated stand pipes, a small brick building to the north of the driveway opposite Anmer Hall and the concrete base of a demolished pavilion to the south of the Hall. The ground beneath these features is, however, 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:


NRO Ref. MC 40/7, A ffeildbooke of the towne of Anmer, (1600)
NRO Ref. MS 3212.3, A particular of the manor, messuages, landes ... in Anmer, (1656)
Title: Tithe Map of Anmer Source Date: 1851 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: NRO Ref. DN/TA 186


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.

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