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Historic England Research Records

South Elmham Hall

Hob Uid: 391726
Location :
Suffolk
East Suffolk
St. Cross, South Elmham
Grid Ref : TM3070083210
Summary : The moated site of a medieval bishop's palace at South Elmham Hall. The moat varies between 10 metres to 16 metres in width, and is waterfilled, surrounding a sub-rectangular island with maximum dimensions of 145 metres by 100 metres north-west - south-east. Parts of a timber bridge were found in waterlogged deposits in the eastern arm of the moat during cleaning operations in 1986-9, and some remaining in position. The ruined walls of a building of two storeys, which is considered to be of 13th or 14th century date, stand adjacent to the inner edge of the western arm of the moat. This building, of flint with brick quoins, has sometimes been described as a chapel, but is more likely to have served as a gate lodge. South Elmham Hall is a manor house of 16th century date, with some 17th and 19th century alterations. It is constructed of flint rubble with some freestone dressings, mainly rendered, under a tile roof. It stands in the southern half of the island and incorporates part of a 13th century or later medieval hall built of flint masonry with freestone dressings. On the south-east side of the moated site are the remains of fishponds visible as an array of large, well defined, rectangular and 'L' shaped depressions. At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, the manor of South Elmham was held by the Bishop of Thetford. Soon afterwards it was purchased by Herbert de Losinga, the first Bishop of Norwich Priory. References in the medieval account rolls of the manor to a chapel and two cloisters within the moat are evidence that the site may have housed a small monastic cell in the early 12th century, and there is a belief that the see of Elmham was centred here in the 7th century. In the 13th to 14th centuries, it became an important residence of the Bishops of Norwich. In 1540, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the property was granted to Edward North (created Lord North in 1553). Scheduled Monument; Hall listed Grade I, ruins Grade II.
More information : (TM 307 832) Moat (NR)

(TM 3070 8321) South Elmham Hall on site of (NAT) Bishop's Palace (NR)

(TM 3066 8322) Chapel (NR) (remains of) (NAT). (1)

South Elmham Hall, externally mainly mid 19th century reconditioning but the core is 16th century, surrounding some thick walls and stone arches of the 13th century hall, which was built as a palace for the Bishop of Norwich, Herbert de Losinga. The 16th century house was probably rebuilt by Lord North to whom it was granted by Henry VIII in 1540. In the grounds are a gable end wall and part of the sides of what is called a chapel, but it is also considered to have been a gate lodge of the old 13th century Hall. (2)

The Bishops of Norwich had a summer house at the hall. By the side of the house are the ruins of the so-called chapel, a rectangular gabled building with no evidence of religious use. (3)

A large quadrangular moat surrounds what is supposed to be the site of the bishop's palace of the ancient Anglian See. (4)

Documentary evidence conclusively places the Bishopric at North Elmham, Norfolk (see TF 92 SE 3). (5)

South Elmham Hall, containing 13th and 16th century work, is as described, but is externally not outstanding. The ruins of the alleged chapel at TM 3067 8322 (see enlargement and ground
photographs) are probably those of a 16th century gatehouse constructed of flint rubble walling and Tudor brick.

The owner of the Hall states that he found piling of what he considers to be a "drawbridge" across the moat at this point. The water-filled moat, with arms averaging 10.0m wide, surrounds the Hall. It measures overall 160.0m NW/SE by 125.0m transversely. Published survey (25") revised. (6)

South Elmham Hall: Listed Grade I.

Manor House, 16th century with substantial medieval remains inside. Two storeys, with attics to part of the building; 'L'-shaped form. The north-south range, in rubble flint with some freestone, is mainly rendered; roof of plain tiles with 19th century ornamental ridge-tiles; pierced and fluted bargeboards and a spike finial to the north gable; an internal chimney-stack with sawtooth shafts on a rectangular base. The east-west range is in Tudor red brick, with some diapering on the ground floor, timber-framed and rendered above; the west gable wall is in red brick, crow-stepped, incorporating a chimney stack; roof of plain tiles with decorated ridge-tiles, apparently of 17th century date. Both ranges have three-light casement windows with transoms, mainly early 19th century, on the ground floor, and cross-windows in similar style to the upper floor.

The main entrance, on the north, has a 19th century enclosed and gabled brick porch with a roof of plain tiles and carved bargeboards matching those on the north gable. The north-south range contains the medieval core of the building and is traditionally thought to be a palace of the early Bishops of Norwich: it may have been a first floor hall originally. The interior contains a number of moulded stone arches and doorways on the ground floor, all resited, and dated to the 13th and 14th centuries. On the upper floor at the north end, two linked doorways with pointed arches are heavily weathered, possibly indicating an original external position. Above them, in the attic, are the truncated remains of a three-light stone-mullioned window with deep inner splay, apparently the only decorative feature in situ, and its reduction in height indicates that the building has been lowered. On the inner walls, to each side of the window remains, are small panels of circa 1300 with a simple flowing design in red ochre, now very faint. A small band of similar decoration is exposed on the east side wall on the first floor, but this has been embellished at a later date, with added scrolls and colouring. The attics are high and spacious, and were reroofed in the 16th century: trusses with tall queen-struts morticed into cambered collars and supported by small solid brackets; the associated side purlins have wide, flat, top surfaces and were intended to support the ends of the joists for a cambered ceiling, now removed. The east-west range, which is all an addition of the 16th century, overlapping the older range at the east end, has a smaller version of the queen-strut roof.

The house stands at the southern corner of a large, roughly rectangular, moated site, and is just within the parish boundary of St. Cross, South Elmham, although part of the platform of the moat is within the adjacent parish of St. Margaret, South Elmham. The belief that the See of Elmham, created in the 7th century, was centred here, the associated "minster" and documentary evidence of a palace or house for the Bishops of Norwich in the 13th century, and perhaps earlier, make this site of particular interest. Roger de Skernyng, Bishop of Norwich, died at his manor house at South Elmham in 1278; a later Bishop, Henry Despenser, was granted licence to crenellate his house at South Elmham in 1387. In 1540 the manor was granted by Henry VIII to Edward North, created Lord North in 1553. It seems to have been he who added the east-west range and re-roofed the north-south range. Subsequently, the manor was granted to Sir John Tasburgh, and remained in the Tasburgh family until 1740.

Listing NGR TM3071483216. (7)

Listed Grade II.

Ruins, standing to the east of South Elmham Hall on the inner edge of the moat, and variously said to be of a chapel or gatehouse, though there is no particular evidence for either function. Possibly 14th century. Mainly in rubble flint with an admixture of small red bricks. All that remain are the north-west gable wall, which stands to full height with two rectangular window openings, and part of the side walls. There is some indication that the building had an upper floor.

Listing NGR: TM3066983229. (9)

The licence to crenellate of 1387 does not refer to South Elmham but to the Bishop's Palace at North Elmham. (10)

Rejected as a licence to crenellate for South Elmham; an entry created instead for the Bishop's Castle at North Elmham. (11)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1957
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Wainford, AUG-1949
Page(s) : 43-44
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : [Accessed 17-OCT-2006]
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Source Number : 3
Source : Suffolk
Source details :
Page(s) : 396
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Suffolk, volume one
Source details :
Page(s) : 616
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 67-108
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 6 (1962-3)
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1, PAS, 12-JUL-73
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Waveney, 27-APR-1987
Page(s) : 29-30
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 16-Jan-98
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District of Waveney, 27-APR-1987
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : E-mail to PastScape from Mr Philip Davis, 16-OCT-2006
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Possible earliest phase 7th century
Monument End Date : 699
Monument Start Date : 600
Monument Type : Bishops Palace
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Medieval
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Moat, Fishpond, Bridge
Evidence : Earthwork, Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Early C12
Monument End Date : 1132
Monument Start Date : 1100
Monument Type : Monastery, Chapel, Cloister
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 13th century or later use
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1200
Monument Type : Bishops Palace, Bishops Summer Palace
Evidence : Architectural Component, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 13th to 14th centuries
Monument End Date : 1399
Monument Start Date : 1200
Monument Type : Gate Lodge, Chapel
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Post-Dissolution phase
Monument End Date : 1599
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : Manor House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Alterations 17th century
Monument End Date : 1699
Monument Start Date : 1600
Monument Type : Manor House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Alterations early to mid 19th century
Monument End Date : 1866
Monument Start Date : 1800
Monument Type : Manor House
Evidence : Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 282307
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 21446
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 282306
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TM 38 SW 2
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 358933
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1031286
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TM 38 SW 2
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1973-07-12
End Date : 1973-07-12
Associated Activities : Primary, FRIARS TO FLYERS PROJECT, WAVENEY
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, SOUTH ELMHAM HALL BARN
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BATEMANS BARN, SOUTH ELMHAM HALL
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2006-01-01
End Date : 2006-12-31