Record Details

NHER Number:30469
Type of record:Designed Landscape
Name:Lexham Hall Park


The park was created in the late 18th century. Belts of woodland were planted and the watercourse was dammed to form a 'broadwater' in the early 19th century. The layout of the early gardens is unknown. Some of the existing walls are early to mid 18th century and may have surrounded a formal garden. The present formal gardens date to the late 20th and were designed by Dame Sylvia Crowe. Parts of the 19th century gardens, woodland and American gardens can still be seen. A gardener's cottage, glasshouses and a venison house were built in the 19th century.


  • The landscape park around Lexham Hall was created in the 18th century  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service


Grid Reference:TF 86673 17181
Map Sheet:TF81NE

Full description

Historic Parkland Grade II.
Lexham Hall (NHER 4089) incorporates a 17th Century building; however the lay out of the park probably dates to between 1776 and (S6). The early history of the park can be constructed from the broad outlines given on the 1776 diversion order map for East Lexham (S4, S6 & S7). From these it would appear that the park was created in the later 18th century. There is a clear Holloway running east-west through the centre of the park, on the line of the old Lexham-Litcham road shown on the road closure map of 1776. The park may have incorporated existing trees from the agricultural landscape, including an oak with a girth of 23 feet standing near the Hall.
(S7) shows blocks of woodland had been created or expanded. It also shows a number of linear areas of water to the east of the house. The central one is a natural stream ponded back to make a river-like feature. The western watercourse may be an old mill race. The last is possibly an ornamental waterway but if so, is unusual for this period. In the 19th century the eastern and western watercourses disappear (based on the 6 inch first edition Ordnance Survey) in the 20th century the central river was expanded and named ‘broadwater’. (S5) states that there are remains of a 19th century floated meadow system within the park, draining into the Long Water - a name the reference uses for the ‘broadwater’.
The walled kitchen gardens of the 18th and 19th century still partly survive (S4). The most striking feature of the kitchen garden is the Crinkle-Crankle north wall (NHER 44220). During the 1840s ‘Suttons Plantation’ became the ‘American Garden’ and is heavily planted with exotic tree species. Two service buildings remain; the first is probably a pony house, the other a potting shed, both suggest a mid-19th Century date. The venison house (NHER 4421) is also 19th Century. Other 19th Century structures visible within the park are a tennis pavilion, Gardener’s cottage, as well as modern bridges over the waterways. The park was expanded to the east in the 19th Century and a lodge installed by the western entrance. (S3) adds the area north of the road to the protected park, and also notes that Sylvia Crowe designed the gardens. To the south of the house lies a modern semi-circular ha-ha.
Information from (S3) and (S4). Also see (S1-2), (S5-7) for more details.
E. Rose (NLA), 7 March 1994, 24 May 1995 and 17 December 2002.
Updated by E. Nicholl (UEA), 14 November 2011.

January 1946.
Context 2. RAF air photograph shows area of floated water meadows to southeast of Broad Waters, now completely destroyed by extension of lake to east. Area around 1.5 hectares.
B. Cushion (NLA) 7 September 1998.

March-May 2014. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of groundworks undertaken to improve the water quality and habitats of the River Nar and the lakes within Lexham Hall Park (part of the River Nar Restoration Project).
The creation of new meanders within the river to the south of the eastern lake had only minimal impact on previously undisturbed soils, with the work mostly restricted to the channel itself. Removal of historical dredgings from the southern bank of this section of the river revealed no buried archaeological horizons, with fragments of modern brick the only finds noted within the gravelly dredgings.
Excavations to enlarge the western lake mostly revealed only material and deposits relating to the construction and maintenance of the lake itself. It was found that large branches had been laid around its perimeter, with the area behind them then infilled with bricks (some of which can be dated as made between 1877 and 1919). A trench excavated to facilitate the removal of dredged material from the lake did however expose a brown peaty loam with pale sand laminations that potentially represented the fill of an early, natural channel.
To the west of the lakes the river was diverted to the south, so that it flowed through an existing channel within the American Gardens - part of which is a recut of the medieval moat (NHER 4082). This required the removal of a brick crossing from the channel. This had been constructed in the 1950s (when the lakes were first excavated) and its removal revealed no evidence for an earlier structure (although a crossing of some kind is shown at this location on early maps). The dredging of the former channel to the north was also monitored as this coincided with the northern arm of the moat. It was though found that the watercourse no longer reflects the original form of the moat, being wide and shallow at this point. Care was taken to ensure that the dredgings were deposited away from the earthworks of the moat.
See report (S8) for further details, including results of an initial topographic survey by the Norfolk Rivers Internal Drainage Board.
P. Watkins (HES), 21 June 2021.

Monument Types

  • SUNDIAL (Unknown date)
  • AMERICAN GARDEN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • GARDEN WALL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • KITCHEN GARDEN (Post Medieval to 21st Century - 1540 AD to 2100 AD)
  • MOAT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PARK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SERPENTINE WALL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WALLED GARDEN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WATER MEADOW (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CANAL (18th Century to Unknown - 1800 AD)
  • LAKE (18th Century to Unknown - 1800 AD)
  • SUMMERHOUSE (19th Century to 21st Century - 1850 AD to 2100 AD)
  • BRIDGE (Early 20th Century to 21st Century - 1901 AD to 2100 AD)
  • HA HA (Early 20th Century to 21st Century - 1901 AD to 2100 AD)
  • SWIMMING POOL (Early 20th Century to 21st Century - 1901 AD to 2100 AD)
  • LOGGIA (Mid 20th Century to 21st Century - 1950 AD to 2100 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Registered Park or Garden
  • Higher Level Stewardship

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TF8617/X, Y.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1995. TF8617/V, AA - AH.
<S1>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1980. Ordnance Survey (OS) 1:10 000.
<S2>Map: Ordnance Survey, First Edition, 6 Inch. 1879-1886. Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 6 inch map..
<S3>Designation: English Heritage. Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England..
<S4>Unpublished Document: Norfolk County Council. [unknown]. Inventory of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Norfolk..
<S5>Article in Serial: Wade-Martins, S. and Williamson, T. 1994. Floated water-meadows in Norfolk: a misplaced innovation?. Agricultural History Review. Vol 42 Pt 1 pp 20-37.
<S6>Publication: Faden, W. and Barringer, J. C. 1989. Faden's Map of Norfolk in 1797.
<S7>Map: Pratt & Son, Norwich. 1841. East Lexham Tithe Map..
<S8>Unpublished Contractor Report: Wallis, H. 2014. Archaeological Watching Brief. River Nar Restoration Project. Lexham Hall. Heather Wallis. 145.

Related records

44220Parent of: Crinkle crankle wall in Lexham Hall Park (Building)
11921Parent of: Probable post medieval garden feature (Monument)
44221Related to: Former dairy or venison house in Lexham Hall Park (Building)
4089Related to: Lexham Hall (Building)

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