Record Details

NHER Number:13746
Type of record:Monument
Name:Probable site of Downham Hall medieval great house and associated earthworks


Cartographic evidence suggests that this is the site of a medieval great house, thought to have originally been an abbot's or bishop's manor. A bibliographic source records that in 1659 the Wodehouse family, the owners of Kimberley Park (NHER 30466) in which the site now lies, took over the property, but it was abandoned in 1712. There are extensive earthworks at the site defining a possible semi-circular enclosure or moat and a possible fishpond. In the wider surroundings, further earthworks and cropmarks (NHER 57399) define a seemingly later field system, although parts may be contemporary with the moat or enclosure, some perhaps representing causeways or hollow ways giving access to the site.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 098 046
Map Sheet:TG00SE

Full description


Earthworks surveyed by NARG, said to be site of Downham Lodge.
Report in file.

On arable around edge six medieval glazed and unglazed sherds found. [1].
Identified by A. Rogerson (NAU).

Downham Lodge was occupied by Wodehouses in 17th/18th centuries between Old and New Kimberley Halls. See (S1).

December 1978.
Long east-to-west pond marked by Ordnance Survey seems completely modern, but may occupy south side of moated enclosure as there are indications of a north and east side.

Ordnance Survey regard it as a medieval fish pond [1], but writer cannot see why. North of pond (field boundary moved south) all pasture; many humps and bumps, presumably outer enclosures of house or surrounding tofts. Hollow way leads east to road; another to north-west, marked on OS and curving, may be an old approach to Kimberley House. Remains indicate Downham Lodge was an existing medieval house when Wodehouses took it over in 1659, and thre is information that it was a bishop's manor [1]. Abandoned 1712.
1827 estate plan in Norfolk Records Office shows a small building here, and the southern pond as curving round on west.
1996. Found on molehills [2], [3].
One sherd 17th-18th century stoneware.
One sherd late medieval/Trans ware.
E. Rose (NLA), 28 June 1996.

Under good grass cover, with minimal erosion by cattle.
H. Paterson (NLA), 2 April 1998.

March 2003.
Site scheduled (S3).
M. Horlock (NLA), 1 September 2003.

Informant [4] states that this is the abbot's manor, rather than belonging to a bishop.
A. Cattermole (NLA), 22 May 2006.

July 2012. Norfolk NMP.
Of the earthworks described above, only the semi-circular moat or enclosure and the fishpond now form part of this record. The more extensive earthworks visible in the wider area are now recorded as part of NHER 57399.

The earthworks described above are which are thought to relate to the site of Downham Hall, are visible as earthworks on aerial photographs (S4)-(S7), centred at TG 0987 0462. Elements have also been captured by Lidar (S8). The earthworks across this whole area are partly tree-covered and difficult to map. They are also difficult to relate to previous surveys; in terms of the NAHRG survey, only a written description, no actual plan of the site, is contained in the Secondary File, while the description in the Scheduling Report seems to confuse north and south, stating that Faden’s 1797 Map of Norfolk places Downham Common to the north of the site, when it is in fact shown to the south.

Despite these difficulties, a semi-circular enclosure or moat is apparent, the most substantial element of which is the extant pond, possibly a former fishpond, along its southern side. The relatively insubstantial of the other sides of the enclosure, particularly that to the east, suggests that this was perhaps never a moated site, or at least not one with a complete circuit. Short lengths of ditch and bank appear to continue beyond the enclosure circuit, but only for a short distance, hinting at relationships with the surrounding landscape. More evident across the wider area is part of a presumably medieval to post medieval field system (NHER 57399), parts of which clearly post-date the enclosure but elements of which might have originally been part of the contemporary landscape.

The historical evidence given in the Scheduling Report suggests that this was indeed an abbot’s, rather than a bishop’s, manor, and that although the site was acquired by the Wodehouse family they may not have lived here, but rather at Downham Lodge Farm, by which time this site had probably been abandoned.
S. Tremlett (NMP), 22 July 2012.

Monument Types

  • CURVILINEAR ENCLOSURE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FISHPOND? (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • HOLLOW WAY (Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1539 AD?)
  • MANOR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOAT? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Finds

  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TG0904 S-U.
---Map: Environment Agency. 2001. LIDAR TG0804 LAST RETURN 26-NOV-2001 © Environment Agency.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S1>Article in serial: Cozens-Hardy, B. 1961. Some Norfolk Halls. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXXII pp 163-208. p 190.
<S2>Monograph: Williamson, T.. 1998. Archaeology of the Landscape Park: Garden Design in Norfolk, England, c. 1680-1840.. BAR (British Series). Vol 286.
<S3>Scheduling record: English Heritage. Scheduling Report.
<S4>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 3G/TUD/UK/52 5240-2 31-JAN-1946 (NMR).
<S5>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1634 4127-8 09-JUL-1946 (NMR).
<S6>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1973. OS/73320 071-2 16-JUN-1973 (NMR).
<S7>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1989. NHER TG 0904S, U (NLA 216/DPZ5, 7) 21-FEB-1989.
<S8>Map: Environment Agency. 2001. LIDAR TG0804 LAST RETURN 26-NOV-2001 © Environment Agency.

Related records

30466Part of: Kimberley Park (Monument)

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