Record Details

NHER Number:52590
Type of record:Monument
Name:King's House Gardens

Summary

King's House (NHER 5752) was constructed around 1770 but is believed to incorporate remains of a 16th century house which was acquired by Charles I and gifted to Master of the Horse before being sold to the Wodehouse family in the later 17th century. Early 18th century descriptions of King's House note that it was approached from the north and its grounds included a garden and kitchen garden as well as a banqueting house. By 1807 Burrel's map of Thetford depicts much of the open land between King's House and Earl Lane as belonging to Mr. Cole, although the area is also labelled 'anciently the Palace Yards and Gardens'. At this time, only a small rectangular area immediately north of King's House appears to have been planted. However, by 1883 this rectagular north garden had been expanded to incorporate the southern portion of the area formerly noted as belonging to Mr. Cole. This land had been formally planted and several small glasshouses and other buildings had been constructed along the north side. The area to the north of this had been divided into three enclosures, each with formal planting, and the land in the extreme north fronting Earl's Lane had been developed as housing. Ownership of the three enclosed areas south of Earl's Lane during the late 19th and early 20th century is uncertain, but by 1947 they had been included within the King's House grounds. At this time Mr George Staniforth bequeathed the gardens to the Borough of Thetford along with a 'generous endowment' for their maintenance. This trust is overseen by the council, whose offices now occupy King's House, and has been used to maintain the gardens. The gardens are currently approached through a set of ornamental gates to the east of the house. The area immediately north of the house retains formal walks and plantings. To the northeast there is a bowling green and a bowls pavilion and in the northwest there are two tennis courts. Ornamental planting continues around and to the north of these sports facilities. None of the glasshouses depicted on the 1905 Ordnance Survey map remain, although the broad layout of the garden as it appeared in 1905 can still be discerned.
The late 18th century garden wall was added to English Heritage's List of Buildings of Historical and Architectural interest in 1971. Repairs to the wall were monitored in 1998. No archaeological features were identified during this work, but a sherd of Roman pottery, medieval pottery and window glass, and a large quantity of post medieval material was recovered.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 87013 83197
Map Sheet:TL88SE
Parish:THETFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

THE GARDEN WALL AND WATCHING BRIEF RECORDED BELOW WERE PREVIOUSLY RECORDED UNHER NHER 5752.

King's House Gardens
King's House (NHER 5752) was constructed around 1770 but is believed to incorporate remains of a 16th century house which was acquired by Charles I and gifted to Master of the Horse before being sold to the Wodehouse family in the later 17th century. Early 18th century descriptions of King's House note that it was approached from the north and its grounds included a garden and kitchen garden, as well as a banqueting house. The latter was situated in the southwest corner of the grounds, adjoining the churchyard and overlooking King Street.
King's House gardens are depicted on the 1807 (S2) and 1837 maps of the town, although boundaries and divisions appear to have changed during this time. In 1807, the northern portion of the gardens (fronting Earl's Lane) are labelled as 'Mr Cole, anciently the Palace Yards and Gardens' (S2). A yard in the southeast was also labelled 'Mr. Cole', and a long rectangular garden immediately north of the house appears to have been planted (S2). In 1837, both the court to the south of the house and the long, rectangular garden to the north contained planting, although the detailed layout is not recorded. To the northeast, the pasture? of James Cole is still depicted, with thin boundary belts and a central circle of planting.
By 1883 (S3) the rectagular north garden had been expanded to incorporate the area formerly noted as belonging to Mr. Cole. This area had been formally planted and several small glasshouses and other buildings had been constructed along the north side. The northern part of the area fronting Earl's Lane had been developed as housing and the remaining land had beed divided into three areas, each with formal planting. This arrangement was still depicted in 1905 (S1). Ownership of the three enclosed areas south of Earl's Lane in the late 19th and early 20th century is uncertain, but by 1947 they had been included within the King's House grounds.
In 1947 Mr George Staniforth bequeathed the gardens to the Borough of Thetford along with a 'generous endowment' for their maintenance. This trust is overseen by the council, whose offices now occupy King's House. A survey of the gardens in 1997 (S1) noted that they are currently approached through a set of ornamental gates to the east of the house and described the gardens as follows:
'Directly north of the house is a serpentine edged lawn surrounded by paths and by tree and shrub planting. Mature specimens here include Lime, Tulip Tree, Wellingtonia, Horse Chestnut, and Yew. A substantial building with gothic-headed windows stands beyond the north belt of planting. To the east is a dahlia border and to the west a rectangle of lawn with beds and a twentieth century Irish Yew walk. Northeast is a bowling green and bowls pavilion and northwest are two tennis courts. Ornamental planting continues around and to the north of these sports facilities. North and northeast of the gardens are the horticultural service areas. None of the glasshouses depicted on the 1905 OS map remain, although the broad layout of the garden as it appeared in 1905 can still be discerned.' (S1)
It was also noted that the forecourt to King's House also retains mature planting and is used for vehicle parking.
See (S1) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 18 December 2008.

March 1971. Listed Grade II.
Garden wall. Late C18. Re-used clunch blocks laid in courses with brick and some re-used ashlar.
See (S4) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 18 December 2008.

Further block of reused stone in garden wall to northwest.
E. Rose (NAU) 21 February 1997.

Feburary 1998. Watching Brief.
The northernmost garden boundary wall had become unsafe due to pressure exerted by the growth of a large, mature tree. Groundworks in preparation for buttressing and repair of the exterior of the garden wall were monitored.
Observations were only possible within small areas where tree roots were absent. No archaeological evidence for foundation trenches relating to the wall or any other archaeological features was observed. The area appeared to have previously been disturbed, all soil deposits consisting of mixed redeposited garden topsoil and sand.
Finds primarily consisted of modern material, including several kilograms of complete and partial beer, spirit and wine bottles associated with previous use of this area as a yard for an inn. 73 sherds of post medieval and modern pottery were retained along with clay tobacco pipe fragments, a copper alloy button, fragments of window and vessel glass, and an animal bone. The pottery assemblage consisted of Staffordshire ware, Westerwald stone ware, cream ware, late post-medieval slip ware, tin-glazed earthenware types, glazed red earthenware and blue/wihte wares.
A 2nd to 4th century Romano-British grey ware rim and a medieval Grimston glazed ware body sherd were also recovered as well as one fragment of medieval window glass.
See (S5)and (S6) for further details.
E. Rose (NLA) 27 April 1999.
Updated H. Hamilton (NLA), 18 December 2008.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • GARDEN (Post Medieval to Modern - 1700 AD to 2050 AD)
  • KITCHEN GARDEN (Post Medieval - 1700 AD? to 1900 AD?)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • MOLLUSCA REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BOTTLE (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW GLASS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BUTTON (Post Medieval to Cold War - 1540 AD to 1950 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval to Cold War - 1540 AD to 1950 AD)
  • TOBACCO PIPE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • VESSEL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WINDOW GLASS (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2008. Gardener Put Out To Pasture. 1 November.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S1>Unpublished document: Taigel, A. 1997. Norfolk Gardens Trust: Town Gardens Survey - Volume Two. Pp 22-3.
<S2>Map: Burrell, G. B.. 1807. Map of Thetford.
<S3>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1883. Ordnance Survey Town Map: Thetford. 50 inch to 1 mile.
<S4>Scheduling record: English Heritage. List of Buildings of Historical and Architectural Interest.
<S5>Unpublished document: Wallace, P. A. M.. 1999. NAU Report No. 405. Report on an Archaeological Watching Brief at King's House, Thetford..
<S6>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1992. Historic Wall Work IN Eastern Daily Press. 25 August.

Related records

5752Related to: King's House (Building)
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