Monument record LRM 003 - Letheringham Lodge

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Small, square moat, wet with sides 48 yds long. Scheduled.


Grid reference Centred TM 2759 5702 (67m by 60m) Centred on
Map sheet TM25NE


Type and Period (3)

Full Description

Small, square moat, wet with sides 48 yds long. The main approach to the site is across a brick and timber bridge in the middle of the S side. There is another timber bridge in the middle of the W side. The edges of the island are brick revetted (C18 or C19?). Most of the island is covered by the house. The front part of the house was originally a square timber-framed structure, jettied on all sides. At each corner there are large wooden posts (two of these are now inside the existing house) decorated with a freize of 3 arches on each of the exterior faces. Dated late C15 by Pevsner (S1) and 1460+/- by Sandon (S2). These posts support dragon beams which are in turn carried by a central brick chimney. In the middle of the N wall at first floor level (now internal) there is a four-light timber window with arched heads. Tacked on to this structure on the N side is a timber and brick extension, including a tall brick gable wall which runs down to the moat. A doorway into this extension, on the W side, has `E.W. 1610' on the lintel.On the W side of the square structure there is a small wing containing a Jacobean staircase. Carved panelling from the house is said to be now in Brodick Castle, Isle of Arran (S3).
The building was modernised in the C18-C19 and new windows were inserted.The square structure does not, in origin, seem to have been a normal domestic building. One possibility is that it was originally the Wickham Market Shire Hall removed to a new site. John Kirby, 1735, recorded that `The Quarter Sessions were held here (Wickham Market), having had a Shire Hall for that purpose, and some now living remember it being removed by the Lord of the Manor and a Farm House built therewith at Letheringham, now called the Old Hall'(LRM 001) (S4). Others have suggested that it was a hunting lodge, however, it lies outside the known area of the deer park at Letheringham (in the SW corner of the parish in the area now occupied by Botany Farm). This was disparked in 1712 (S3). Nonetheless a park is clearly shown surrounding the `Lodge' on Bowen's map of 1755 (S6). The initials E. W. over the door could stand for Elizabeth Wingfield. Elizabeth Drury married Sir Thomas Wingfield of Letheringham Hall in 1601, he died in January 1609/ 1610, leaving Elizabeth as a young widow aged 30. She remarried Henry Reynolds in August 1610, but the marriage was a disastrous one and she and her husband were disputing in the courts by 1615. She died in 1620 (S5).
Letheringham Lodge may have been built as a dower house for her, but it is doubtful whether a dower house would have been needed in 1610 as her son was then only a small boy. It is also odd that the date and initials are over a side door not the main one. The unusually small size of the moat and the close correspondence between it and the size of the building, makes it likely that the two are contemporary. It is possible that the site had a specialised usage, such as a banqueting house.
September 1989: Moat dredged with machinery.
May 1994 Scheduling information: The water-filled moat is rectangular and measures between 7m and 9m in width, approximately 3m deep, with overall dimensions of 40m E/W by 35m N/S. Its S-E corner is extended by a pond approximately 1m deep (modern not included in the scheduling). Brick revetment visible on inner edge at SW corner, and mortared flints and bricks have been observed in SE corner of moat. Access to interior provided by modern timber footbridges across W and S arms. Southern bridge supported on brickwork, included in scheduling.
Letheringham Lodge, Listed Grade II* (not in schedule) occupies over 50% of total area of island.
This site survives well and is of unusual type. Contrasts well with Letheringham Hall (LRM 001) 1km to NE, and is of interest in the study of land holding and land use in Med and PMed times, particularly in relation to Wingfield family (S6).

Sources/Archives (11)

  • --- Cartographic materials: Bowen E. 1755. Accurate Map of the County of Suffolk.
  • <S1> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner N & Radcliffe E. 1974. The Buildings of England: Suffolk. 332.
  • <R1> Index: OS. OS Card. OS, card TM25NE8.
  • <M1> Unpublished document: Suffolk Archaeological Service. Parish file. Parish file: sketch plan.
  • <M1> Unpublished document: Suffolk Archaeological Service. Parish file. Parish file: (S6).
  • <S2> (No record type): Sandon E, Suffolk Houses, 1977, 270-274.
  • <M2> (No record type): SAM file: (S6).
  • <S3> (No record type): Dyke G, Letheringham - Deben Valley Place Names series, n.d. (1980s).
  • <S4> (No record type): Kirby, J.. Kirby J, The Suffolk Traveller, 1735, 17.
  • <S5> (No record type): Salmon V, `The other Elizabeth Drury: A tragic marriage in the family of John Donne's patron', PSIA .
  • <S7> (No record type): EH Scheduling Information, 13 May 1994.

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Record last edited

Apr 20 2022 3:05PM

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