From the archives: moats, these “quiet mirrors of history”
- Credit: Archant
Moats: these 'quiet mirrors of history' are quite a feature of our eastern region. Mainly surrounding ecclesiastical or manorial buildings they can also be found enclosing farms and other buildings.
1 The distinctive outline of Baconsthorpe Hall is seen across the moat of the 500-year-old castle, a 15th century fortified manor near Holt. In 1972 the moat was excavated and pottery, slate, Venetian glass and a 300-year-old glass dragon were discovered.
2 The magnificent Blickling Hall boasts a dried-up moat on three sides, nowadays used for planting moisture-loving plants. The present hall was built on the site of a medieval moated hall. Our picture dates from 1989.
3 A fresh breeze ripples through the waters in the moat surrounding the ruins of Caister Castle, in early May, 1956.
4 At Hethel in August, 1961, George and Katie Chapman and their children look down into the moat from the ancient brick bridge leading to their home, Moat House. It used to be the rectory and had recently been bought by Mr Chapman, an artist. He hoped in due course to clear the moat and perhaps stock it with fish.
5 The moat at Tudor Hindringham Hall was believed to be constructed by monks in 1495 by diverting water from a small stream nearby. From the moat, water flows underground to two fish stews before flowing back into the stream. Our picture was taken in the 1950s.
6 Hunstanton Hall, ancestral home of the Le Strange family seen in 1957, six years after a devastating fire. The hall, moated and castellated, is the repository of many fine tales – PG Wodehouse stayed there during the 1920s and wrote 'The Small Bachelor' while sitting in a punt in the moat.
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7 The impressive bulk of Abbey Farm at Old Buckenham may have been built partly of stones from the adjacent and demolished priory church. The moat at the back of the house runs across the lawn and round a rough mound where it is thought a pre-Roman castle stood. Our photo from May, 1965 shows the old priory wing and the newer farmhouse.
8 A view taken in April, 1964 across the moat towards the south side of Oxburgh Hall and the sun dial on the great gate tower, overlooking the inner courtyard. On this side there once stood a magnificent 15th century banqueting hall, which was pulled down in 1775.
9 The church of St Michael and St Felix at Rumburgh is bordered by a moat. The church was built by monks of the adjoining priory which belonged to the Benedictine Abbey of St Mary at York. It has the unusual feature of a wooden belfry. Our picture was taken in 1956.
10 St Peter's Hall at South Elmham glories in a beautiful moat with resident black swans. The historic hall is presumed to date from before 1500 and was the house of the Tasburgh family. A correspondent writing in the early 1970s remembers that when the moat was drained and cleared 'tubs of eels' were revealed.
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