Moated site in Gelham's Wood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020857

Date first listed: 13-Oct-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Mar-2003


Ordnance survey map of Moated site in Gelham's Wood
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: South Norfolk (District Authority)

Parish: Kimberley

National Grid Reference: TG 09038 05327


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 in Gelham's Wood survives well, with a variety of associated features including evidence for a substantial masonry building. The identification of the monument as the site of a medieval manor, supported by documentary evidence, gives it additional interest. The lower fills of the moats and buried deposits within the enclosures will contain archaeological information concerning the construction of the manorial site, the buildings within it and its occupation during the medieval period. It is one of several surviving manorial sites in the vicinity which became incorporated into the Wodehouse estate and, as a group, these will contribute to an understanding of the social and economic history of the medieval period in this area of Norfolk.


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site with inner and outer enclosures, located on the north side of Kimberley Park alongside the River Tiffey, which runs some 10m to the south east. It is identified as the site of Gelham's manor which, at the time of the Conquest, was held by St Benet's Abbey. The abbey granted it to the Gelham family for the service of 30 shillings a year, and the Gelhams held it until the late 15th century. Around 1521 it was sold to Sir Thomas Wodehouse and was joined with the Wodehouse estate in the adjoining township of Kimberley.

The inner moat, which is now dry, is open to a depth of around 1m and is between 10m and 13m in width. It surrounds a rectangular central platform measuring approximately 40m north west-south east by 34m, and a fragment of upstanding flint masonry, about 0.6m high, marks the northern corner of a building which occupied the centre of the platform. Further evidence for this building will survive below the ground surface. Access to the interior is provided by a wide causeway across the south western arm of the moat.

The inner moat is located roughly centrally within a much larger, sub- rectangular enclosure with internal dimensions of approximately 230m north east-south west by 73m. This outer enclosure is surrounded by a second moat open to a depth of up to 1.3m and ranging from 7m to 10m in width, with a smaller enclosure adjoining it to the south west. The smaller enclosure is defined on the south east and south west sides by an extension of the south eastern arm of the moat from the southern corner of the larger enclosure, and has internal dimensions of about 80m north west-south east by 60m. Within the main outer enclosure, about 17m to the south west of the inner moat and opposite the causeway entrance, there is a sub-rectangular depression about 1m deep, 10m wide and 30m in length, which extends north westwards from the south eastern arm of the outer moat. This was probably a pond, perhaps constructed for the conservation of fish.

Two linear depressions running south eastwards and south westwards from the eastern angle of the outer moat appear to be the remains respectively of an inlet channel to carry water from springs to the north east, and an outlet channel to the river, both probably controlled by sluices.

All modern fences and a brick wall running along the outer lip of the north western arm of the outer moat are 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 30623

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, (1805)

End of official listing