Record Details

NHER Number:4687
Type of record:Building
Name:Priory Farm or Manor Farm


This is a medieval double moated site, which was the site of a manor from the 15th century. In the mid 16th century the house was acquired by the Jenny family, who built an elaborate and substantial courtyard house, only a small portion of which survives. This part of the house has polygonal towers and is richly decorated with complex terracotta friezes and tracery. Excavations on the site in the 1960s recovered Roman, medieval and post medieval pottery and other finds. Although the house was known as Priory Farm, there was never a religious foundation on the site. This site is thought to be that of Risley's Manor, recorded from the 15th century, although the manor has also been linked to the Priory of Norwich.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 8519 0207
Map Sheet:TF80SE

Full description

1968. Excavation.
Restoration carried out at the manor house, allowed for excavation in the area that is enclosed by the moat, which lies behind the exisiting south-west wing. This excavation and a study of the available documentary material by Dr. R. Virgoe, made it possible establish the sequence of development. The earliest building was a 15th-century hall built by the Rysley family. This was redesigned in brick c. 1480, and a two-story gatehouse and projecting turrets along the south-west front were added. The second side of this courtyard house was formed by a timber-framed hall-wing, whose date is uncertain since the pottery found with it, largely Grimston ware, was unstratified.
Information from (S7). SNF2422
M. Langham-Lopez (HES), 11 July 2013.

5 June 1973. Ordnance Survey air photography.
Earthworks of moat.
D. Voisey (NLA)

Medieval moated site.
Present building 16th and 17th centuries.
Excavations in 1967 to 1969 produces medieval and post medieval pottery.
Casual find of Roman pottery.
See (S1) and (S2).

1996. Earthwork Survey.
1:1000 survey of moat.
See report (S3) for plan (which also covers NHER 4688 and NHER 31848) and further details. This site was included in (S8) and the survey is also noted in (S9).
B. Cushion (NLA) June 1996.

Before February 2002. Stray Find.
Casual find on bank of moat at [1]:
Fragment of 16th century Venetian or facon de venise vessel glass.
A. Rogerson (NLA), 13 January 2005.

(S4) describes the Manor House, formerly known as Great Cressingham Priory, as the remains of a 'sumptuous' mid 16th century manor house. The Jenny family acquired the house in 1542, and the surviving range of the house bears the family monogram in moulded brick. Only the southeast block of Jenny's courtyard house is still standing, with polygonal towers, and complex and elaborate terracotta and brick decoration on the first floor façade. (S5) notes that the west turret was converted into a dovecote. (S6) states that this is the site of the 15th century manor house of 'Rysleys', and that although the land was owned by the Priory of Norwich, there was never a religious house on the site.
S. Spooner (NLA) 4 January 2006

Monument Types

  • FISHPOND (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HOUSE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HOUSE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MANOR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOAT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HOUSE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TIMBER FRAMED BUILDING (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Undated)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • VESSEL (Medieval to 16th Century - 1500 AD to 1599 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building
  • Higher Level Stewardship

Sources and further reading

---Article in Serial: Cozens-Hardy, B. 1961. Some Norfolk Halls. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXXII pp 163-208. p 176.
---Aerial Photograph: TF8501 K,L; TF8502 A-C,E-AL,AP-AT.
---Publication: Clarke, W. G. and Clarke, R. R. 1937. In Breckland Wilds. Second Edition. p 138.
---Aerial Photograph: OS 73-243-075.
---Aerial Photograph: OS 73-243-074.
---Article in Serial: [unknown]. Country Life. Vol LXVI, p 320. vol.LXVI p320.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 80 SE 8.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Article in Serial: Purcell, D.. 1973. Sixteenth-century terra-cotta in East Anglia.. ASCHB. Vol 1.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. 1962. North-West and South Norfolk. The Buildings of England. 1st Edition. p 175; Pl 51b.
---Article in Serial: 1959. Threatened buildings.. Country Life. 19 November, p1.
---Publication: Williams, E. P.. 1890. Old Halls and Manor Houses of Norfolk. pl.IXX. Pl IXX.
---Publication: Willins, E.P. (ed. By Thos. Garratt). 1890. Some Old Halls and Manor Houses in the County of Norfolk.. Pl 20.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Cressingham (Great).
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1950. First visit in eighty years. 4 August.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Unpublished Document: Norfolk Research Committee. 1969. Great Cressingham Manor - an enigma.
<S2>Unpublished Document: Virgoe, R.. Great Cressingham Excavations 1966 to 1967.
<S3>Unpublished Report: Cushion, B. 1996. Gt Cressingham SMR 4687, 4688 & 31848. Earthwork Survey Report.
<S4>Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, W. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 363-364; Pl 69.
<S5>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1342581.
<S6>Article in Serial: Hurst, D. G. 1970. Post-Medieval Britain in 1968. Post-Medieval Archaeology. Vol III (for 1969) pp 193-212. pp 196-197.
<S7>Article in Serial: Wilson, D. M. and Hurst, D. G. 1971. Medieval Britain in 1968. Medieval Archaeology. Vol XIII (for 1969) pp 230-287. pp 269-270.
<S8>Monograph: Cushion, B. and Davison, A. 2003. Earthworks of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 104. p 103.
<S9>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1997. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1996. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt IV pp 547-564. p 552.

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