Medieval Deer Parks in Hoxne

On September 15th the Hoxne Heritage Group were honoured to host Rosemary Hoppitt to address our monthly meeting. Rosemary is an historical geographer and had written her PhD thesis at UEA in 1992 on the development of deer parks in Suffolk from the eleventh to the seventeenth century. Since that time she had researched even more records and we were fascinated to hear her account.

Most Suffolk deer parks were less than 200 acres and belonged originally to the ecclesiastical elite between 1086 and 1602 and then to the lay elite and others. In 1602 there were 130 parks recorded in Suffolk, of which two were in Hoxne, two were in the South Elmham area and one in Homersfield. The old parks were situated on highland areas where drainage was poor – hence the site of the Hoxne Oldepark at Park Farm, near Chickering, which was owned by the Bishop of Norwich. It is believed that this park existed before 1119.

In 1472 an indenture mentions ‘le Oldepark’ which suggests that a ‘new park‘ was in existence.

When fashion began to change, and the demand was for a park in which to set a splendid house, the Old Park was abandoned in favour of a new site which could provide a suitable landscape setting. This was on the site of what is known as Oakley Park, a benign location in the Dove valley.

In 1837 the site became officially known as Oakley Park under Sir Edward Kerrison, however the Hall was demolished in 1923.

We are indebted to Rosemary Hoppitt for her excellent talk and providing so much information on the changing face of Hoxne since the eleventh century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A landscape archaeology walk in Hoxne with Edward Martin.

A group of Heritage members were given some fascinating practical tuition in landscape archaeology in Hoxne on July 19th, when accompanied by well-known archaeologist, Edward Martin.

Edward explained that settlement starts at either the site of a church, or where there is a water supply, e.g. at the confluence of the Dove and Waveney. However, the name Hoxne, meaning ‘heel sinew’ derives from the shape of the landscape and gives the clue indicating Hoxne settlement originated at the church. From the Domesday Book records show that Hoxne had a mid-late Saxon church dedicated to St. Ethelbert and was the Episcopal See of Suffolk. It was almost certainly on the site of the present church. Until C13th Hoxne also had a weekly market and was a very important and thriving village. The vicarage, although moated, is too big for a manorial hall although it is possible that the original bishop’s palace was on that site. During the C14th the palace, now a country seat of the Bishop of Norwich, moved towards the centre of the village to the site where Oakley Park/Hoxne Hall stood. Here they had ‘a palace very fair and gallant, a deer park and flourishing estate’. The deer park at that time was situated on high ground near Hoxne Wood ,and commemorated to this day by the name ’Park Farm’. However, the park did not always satisfy the demands of the hunt so a New Park was established near the palace in C15th.

It is the redundant path referred to as Rose Walk that borders the New Park and back of the Low Street properties that is of specific interest to the HHG. It is conjectured that the path may have been the route that pilgrims visiting the bishop at the church may have taken from their boarding house at the Swan. With reference to maps from 1619, 1757 and 1843 Edward pointed out a number of clues to look for. A brick lodge which appears at Lodge Hill on the 1619 map had disappeared by 1757, infilling in the 1843 map. Rose Lane itself runs between a double ditch – the present wall being on the line of one ditch. Edward was convinced that the deer fence shown on the old maps predated Rose Walk. The wall is interesting as the bricks in some parts are extremely unusual. Some very early bricks dating back to the C16th are present as well as 2.5in.bricks which are only found after 1650. He thought some were Tudor and some, such as the Suffolk whites, may be rejects from the Old Brickworks on the Eye Road. The mixture of bricks suggested that the wall was made from reclaimed materials, possibly from demolished buildings such as Hoxne Hall.

The 1757 map shows the development of an ornamental Serpentine lake from the Goldbrook, a very fashionable statement of the times. Some of the lime trees bordering Rose Walk are substantial and indicate ornamental planting as they are extremely unusual for the area.

On the walk back along Low Street to the church Edward pointed out some interesting features. The facade of Red House actually covers a timber frame, and that test pitting at the front of the Low Street properties is more likely to be fruitful than those at the back, as would the front of the Green Street properties on the other side of the road from the church. He also talked about the famous Banham walls – the attractive brick walling found in various locations around Hoxne. The walls are built of 9.5in half-round hollow coping bricks set at 90 degrees to their original design in staggered courses. The bricks were made at the Old Brickworks on the Eye Road.

He finished his tour by giving some hints on how other research could help inform where test pitting would be most beneficial:-

. Examine documentary evidence indicating trades or farms.

. Look at the shape of farms and soil types in the Waveney Valley to get a clue of the meadows.

. Look at listed buildings and John Walker’s survey to add into the equation.

. Look at aerial photographs e.g. the site of the missing lodge.

. Combine tithe and census records.

. Explore manor rolls. Tithe->manor rolls->property designation may give a clue to how things evolved.

A truly educational and fascinating tour – we all learnt so much.

Edward has suggested that his general chapter on Medieval settlement history in East Anglia in the book Medieval Rural Settlement in Britain 800-1600, obtainable from Amazon, would be helpful in putting Hoxne into its regional context.

Rose walk wall

The wall bordering Rose Walk

Feavearyear Postcards

The Hoxne Heritage Group would like to thank the anonymous donor from Edinburgh for the old postcards addressed to the Feavearyear family. They were extremely interesting, particularly as there are still relatives living locally.

Prehistoric man talk is most successful HHG meeting to date….

Nick Ashton, curator of Prehistory at the British Museum, gave a fascinating lecture to an audience of nearly 80 people, villagers and professional archaeologists, on December 11th in Hoxne. The talk entitled ‘From Happisburgh to Hoxne: the occupation of early man in northern Europe’, focused on the interpretation of evidence from the recent findings of prehistoric footprints at Happisburgh and also from the excavation of the Hoxne brickworks site. He explained how the identification of pollen grains, flint tools and animal bones gave insight into how early man may have lived and how the fluctuations of warm periods interspersed with ice ages would have influenced settlement. Man would not have been able to survive during the ice ages and this would necessitate migration to warmer climates. As temperatures rose, so early man moved northwards to inhabit Britain again. At this time Britain was still linked to Europe. It is likely that early man would have had extensive thick body hair to keep warm.

The lecture has been filmed and we hope to upload it onto the website in due course.

Display of Hoxne Dig Finds

We now have a display case in the Swan pub restaurant containing some of the artefacts found here during our dig last year. When the building work in the church is completed there will be a further display here of our finds in Hoxne.

Talk by Peter West

On November 11th we hosted local farmer and historian, Peter West, to come to talk to the members about the local impact of WW1, including his information on ‘Strathcona Horse at Oakley Park’.

Remembrance Sunday in Hoxne

On Remembrance Sunday, November 9th the Heritage Group presented a display of ‘Hoxne in WW1’ in Hoxne Church. The display tells the stories of some of our fallen that are honoured on the war memorial as well as giving an insight to how life was on the home front. This is a work in progress and will feature as a permanent display when the works in the church have been completed. We would be pleased to have any information or photos of villagers involved in WW1 or WW11 to include in the future.

Rememberance Day 2014

Hoxne Heritage Group reflect on our lovely old houses.

The group had funded John Walker, local expert of timber-framed properties, to examine some of the lovely old houses in the village subject to owners’ consent. On two separate days John took a small group to examine in depth some of the houses. These included 53/54 Low Street, 23/24 Low Street, High House, the Vicarage, Abbey Farm, Abbey View and Red House, Witton’s Lane. On October 18th he led a fascinating and informative all – day training session to an invited audience in which he gave instruction on what features to look for to date a property, including the layout, the roof joists including crown-posts, Queen posts and different types of carpentry joints. This was illustrated by reference to properties in Hoxne and further by actually touring three of the properties to note key features. We are very grateful to the property owners who participated in this exercise and we hope to include more in the future.

Hoxne Heritage Group December Talk

 

Hoxne December talk

 

Reading the writing on the wall

Hoxne Heritage Group presents:

medieval_graffiti_01

     ‘Reading the writing on the wall ‘

                  by  Matt Champion

   (Director of the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey.)

Have you noticed old script and pictures engraved on church walls or even daisy wheels in your old house? Come and find out what it means. The study of medieval graffiti has been hailed as the new sex, drugs, rock and roll! Come and catch the bug!

When?                      Tuesday,March 25th, 7.30pm

Where?                     St.Edmund’s Hall,Hoxne.

Admission £2.50 for non-members, £2 for members