Record Details

NHER Number:32958
Type of record:Monument
Name:Possible site of medieval hermitage


This is the possible site of a medieval hermitage, and medieval masonry and a medieval font have been found in the grounds of the 18th century cottage that now stands on the site. The cottage is surrounded by a much larger building platform, which suggests that it is built on the site of an earlier house. A spigot mortar emplacement was constructed close to the river in World War Two. The buildings on the site now house the Hermitage Hall Museum, or 'Collector's World', which is open to the public.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 5984 0334
Map Sheet:TF50SE

Full description

Now the Hermitage Hall Museum, or Collector's World.
Small 18th century cottage, extended, which stands at the north end of a large rectangular earthwork platform about 1.5m high, now grassed and supporting large trees.
Site of larger house?
Remains of brick structure northeast of house are said to be a freshwater cistern not an icehouse, and internal lining supports this.
Owner believes this is the site of the original Downham Bridge and Hermitage Chapel, not site NHER 12404, and cites its alignment with the church, a former footbridge here (but nothing on Ordnance Survey) and a World War Two mortar spigot at the northeast corner of the complex, formerly on the river bank, said to have been erected because tanks could ford the river here.
Finds made when digging around buildings, now in museum;
Several very large fragments of cusped tracery, late Decorated or Perpendicular.
A stone font, octagonal exterior, stopangles, possibly a cross base hollowed out in antiquity.
A stone coffin lid originally 1.83m long but instead of a cross decorated with a full length axe symbol apparently with second blade at centre. Owner states this is identical to one displayed as Saxon in Ely Cathedral, but source [1] doubts a Saxon date. (A similar slab is in Attleborough church).
Downham Market church has crossed coffin slabs displayed and may have had a chapel demolished.
There is no truth to the legend of a priory in the town (see NHER 12227) but the living was held by the Abbot of Ramsay.
E. Rose (NLA) 26 September 1997.

Monument Types

  • HOUSE PLATFORM (Undated)
  • BRIDGE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CROSS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HERMITAGE (RELIGIOUS) (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HOUSE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SPIGOT MORTAR EMPLACEMENT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds

  • COFFIN (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COFFIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources - none

Related records - none

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