From the archives: moats, these “quiet mirrors of history”

St Peter’s Hall at South Elmham glories in a beautiful moat with resident black swans. Picture: Arch

St Peter’s Hall at South Elmham glories in a beautiful moat with resident black swans. Picture: Archant Library - 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.

Baconsthorpe castle moat and hall, 28 feb 1990. Picture: Archant Library

Baconsthorpe castle moat and hall, 28 feb 1990. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

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.

Blickling hall dried out moat, March 1989. Picture: Archant Library

Blickling hall dried out moat, March 1989. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

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.

Caister Castle ruins, 1st May 1956. Picture: Archant Library

Caister Castle ruins, 1st May 1956. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

3 A fresh breeze ripples through the waters in the moat surrounding the ruins of Caister Castle, in early May, 1956.

George & Katie Chapman & family at Hethel Moat House, 3rd August 1961. Picture: Archant Library

George & Katie Chapman & family at Hethel Moat House, 3rd August 1961. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

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.

Hindringham Hall viewed from the moat, 1950s. Picture: archant Library

Hindringham Hall viewed from the moat, 1950s. Picture: archant Library - Credit: Archant


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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.

Hunstanton Old Hall, 23rd December 1957. Picture: Archant Library

Hunstanton Old Hall, 23rd December 1957. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

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.

Abbey Farm Old Buckenham, 29th May 1965. Picture: Archant Library

Abbey Farm Old Buckenham, 29th May 1965. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

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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.

Oxburgh Hall and moat, 23rd April 1964. Picture: Archant Library

Oxburgh Hall and moat, 23rd April 1964. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

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.

St Michael & St Felix Rumburgh, 29th January 1956. Picture: Archant Library

St Michael & St Felix Rumburgh, 29th January 1956. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

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.

St Peter’s Hall at South Elmham glories in a beautiful moat with resident black swans. Picture: Arch

St Peter’s Hall at South Elmham glories in a beautiful moat with resident black swans. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

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.

If you recognise anyone in the pictures or would like to tell us more about them you can email rosemary.dixton@archant.co.uk

Make sure you join our new Facebook group: Norwich Remembers, for a nostalgic look at Norwich over the decades.

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