Manorial site 480m south west of Downham Lodge Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020858

Date first listed: 12-Mar-2003


Ordnance survey map of Manorial site 480m south west of Downham Lodge Farm
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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: Wymondham

National Grid Reference: TG 09877 04671


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

Reasons for Designation

Medieval manorial settlements, comprising small groups of houses with associated gardens, yards and paddocks, supported communities devoted primarily to agriculture, and acted as the foci for manorial administration. Although the sites of many of these settlements have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were abandoned at some time during the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. The reasons for desertion were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land- use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment, these settlements are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits, providing information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy, and on the structure and changing fortunes of manorial communities.

The earthworks of the enclosure 480m south west of Downham Lodge Farm are less substantial than those of many moated manorial sites, but they survive well, with little or no evidence of modern disturbance, and the evidence that they mark the site of Downham Hall manor gives them additional interest. The earthworks and associated buried remains will retain archaeological information concerning the construction and history of the manorial site and the manner of its occupation during the medieval period. The hollow way which marks the boundary of the adjacent common is also of interest as a feature of historical topography. The monument is one of several manorial sites in and around Kimberley which are associated with the Wodehouse family in the late medieval and early post-medieval periods, including three moated sites which are the subject of separate schedulings. As a group these will contribute to an understanding of the manorial history of the district and social and economic life in this area of Norfolk during the medieval period.


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


The monument includes earthworks and buried remains of what is believed to have been the medieval manor of Downham Hall, situated on the eastern side of Kimberley Park. A map of Kimberley Hall and grounds made in 1714 shows the area containing the earthworks as a field named Old Hall Grounds.

Downham Manor, within the parish of Wymondham, was part of the endowment of Wymondham priory (later abbey) on its foundation early in the 12th century, and it is recorded that in 1492 the then Abbot, John Kertelyngge, was forced to retire to his manor of Downham Hall, following a visitation by the Bishop of Norwich which found the abbey to be in a very disorderly state. At the dissolution of the abbey in 1538, Downham Hall and manor were leased to John Flowerdew of Hethersett, and in 1623 the manor was sold to Richard Buxton, from whom it was acquired by the Wodehouse family. The seat of the Wodehouse's at that time was Kimberley Hall, on a moated site which is the subject of a separate scheduling. In the mid-17th century they removed to Downham Lodge, where they lived until the present Kimberley House was built in 1712. Downham Lodge, as shown on a map of Kimberley Park dated 1700, appears to have been at what is now Downham Lodge Farm rather than on this site, which had almost certainly been abandoned by that time.

Faden's map of Norfolk, published in 1797, shows Downham Common immediately to the north of the site, and the former common edge is still marked by a substantial ditch between 8m and 13m wide and up to 1.5m deep, bordered along the south side by the remains of a bank. This feature, which perhaps served as a sunken track or hollow way, extends westwards from the Barnham Broom Road on the east side of the site, curving towards the boundary on the north west side of the field containing the earthworks. A shallower and narrower ditch, embanked along the southern side, branches westwards from it about 38m from the boundary.

The site of the hall, some 45m to the south of the former common edge, is visible as a sub-rectangular enclosure with internal dimensions of approximately 125m by 90m, aligned NNE-SSW and convex at the northern end. This is surrounded on the east and west sides and around the northern end by a ditch, ranging from 5m to 8m in width and open to a variable depth up to 1.2m, which could be the remains of a partly infilled moat. The southern end is bounded by a long, rectangular pond about 18m in width, probably used for conserving fish, but perhaps designed also to be an ornamental feature. A causeway across the ditch on the north west side of the enclosure may not be an original feature.

The enclosure is bisected north east-south west by a linear depression about 12m wide which extends from a field boundary bordering the Barnham Broom Road (about 100m east of the enclosure) to the opposite field boundary on the west side. This feature appears to be a later hollow way, established after the abandonment of the site, and where it cuts across the ditch on the east side of the enclosure it widens into an irregular depression which is almost certainly the result of later disturbance. There is, however, some evidence for an original subdivision of the enclosure at this point; there are traces of a bank running across the enclosure along the south side of the linear depression, and more substantial remains of internal banks extend southwards from this along the inner edges of the ditches on either side of the enclosure and the pond across the southern end. Slight irregularities in the ground surface within the enclosure are thought to be the result of occupation, and other evidence of such occupation has been recorded in the form of fragments of medieval and post-medieval pottery found on the surface.

A broad low ridge, bordered on either side by ditches, runs SSE from the ditch or hollow way at the common edge to a point just east of the enclosure ditch, where it is cut by the hollow way from the east. This corresponds to the northern part of the eastern boundary of Old Hall Grounds as shown on the map of 1714, but is perhaps an earlier feature, since it does not extend the whole length of that boundary. It has the appearance of a track or causeway leading from the common to the enclosure, although, if so, the common edge ditch was probably bridged at the point of crossing. Later field boundaries are marked by the slight remains of rectilinear ditches to the south east of the manorial enclosure and crossing the enclosure ditch to the north west.

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: 30624

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, (1805), 505,506
Cox, J C, The Victoria History of the County of Norfolk, (1906), 340,341
Williamson, T, 'British Archaol Reports Brit Ser' in The Archaeology of the Landscape Park, , Vol. 268, (1989), 148,152
Williamson, T, 'British Archaeol Reports Brit Ser' in The Archaeology of the Landscape Park, , Vol. 268, (1998), 148,152
Title: A Great Survey of Kimberley Park Source Date: 1700 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: NRO Ref. MF/RO 499/2 (microfilm copy)
Title: A Map of Kimberley Hall and Grounds belonging to it Source Date: 1714 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: NRO Ref. MF/RO499/2 (microfilm copy)
Title: A Map of Kimberley Hall and Grounds belonging to it Source Date: 1714 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: NRO Ref. MF/RO499/2 (microfilm copy)
Title: A Topographical Map of the County of Norfolk Source Date: 1797 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Reprinted 1989

End of official listing