Monument record ACT 002 - Balsdon Hall

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A complex moated homestead & fishponds adjoining 16th century Balsden Hall. Site connected with Bury monastery & Long Melford Manor.


Grid reference Centred TL 898 484 (288m by 259m)
Map sheet TL84NE


Type and Period (3)

Full Description

Balesden Hall... (sic), has a narrow moat enclosing a large quadrangular site, partially divided by an intermediate branch and extending 300 feet inwards from the south-western side. That part surrounding the grounds adjacent to the Hall would appear to have been the original moat - containing fishponds - and the extension towards the NW a later addition. On the NE another square moat surrounds a plot of land in the centre of which is another piece of water (S1).
A complex homestead moat consisting of the original moated area (centred at TL 8948 8543) and an extensiion towards the N and W as shown on the OS 6 inch map. With the exception of the SE corner of the original moat, which is now used as a duck pond, the whole system is heavily overgrown and dry. Correct as shown on OS 6 inch map (S2, 1950)(R2).
Another small moated area of the homestead moat type, although whether this moat ever enclosed a habitation is open to question - the island being very waterlogged (S2, 1951).
An estate at Byligesdynae is mentioned in the will of Aethelflaed ofDamerham (widow of King Edmund) 975 x 991, who left it to Ealdorman Brihtnoth and her sister, and then to the monastery at Bury St Edmunds. Her sister Aelfflaed, the widow of Brihtnoth, left lands at Bylesdyne (5 hides, bounds given) to the religious foundation at Stoke-by-Nayland in her will 1000 x 1002 (S3)(R3). The bounds of the estate have been discussed by Norman Scarfe (S4) . Part at least of the estate did go to the monastery at Bury and were subsumed into the manor of Long Melford. After the Dissolution, the Long Melford estate was granted to Sir William Cordell of Melford Hall. Estate map of 1580 by Israel Amyce for Cordell marks Balsden Hall - building shown and layout of moats and fields approximates to later layout. Smaller moat on N side indistinctly named as `Checker....' (S5). Estate map of 1613 by Samuel Piers for Sir Thomas Savage shows the existing arrangement of moats and buildings in the E part of the southern moated complex (S6). Field list of c.1726 names the larger W part of this complex as `The Orchard, Moated about now call'd Kiln Meadow, the smaller N moat is named as `Chequer Moat' and the field in front of the moat containing the farm buildings is named as `Clapper Meadow, now called the Little Meadow' (this name seems to indicate a rabbit warren)(S1).
Acton Tithe Map 1839 shows house in present position with 2 farm buildings behind in E part of moated complex. W part named as Home Pasture; smaller moat to N marked as an irregular pond (in conflict with the 1613 evidence) in Bason (i.e. Balsdon) Pasture (S8).
1993: Timber-framed house, probably C16 with later additions, built across main entrance to moated complex (however no internal signs that this was a gatehouse). End of moat to S of house has been infilled (shown as moat on 1839 map) and end to N extended to form a pond (not shown on 1839 map). In the S part of the enclosure is an overgrown complex of linear ditches (partly infilled) that were probably fish ponds. External bank along at S edge of the moat where it adjoins Balsdonhall Grove (a fragment of a larger wood shown on 1580 & 1613 maps). Farm buildings of 1839 replaced by modern ones and a new entrance causeway created on N side. Larger enclosure on W side is now a mixture of rough ground and ploughed land. Entrance causeway on W side not shown on 1839 map. Ditch of W moat smaller than that of E enclosure, both largely wet but with silt. Separate small moat on NE in square with an external tongue at the S corner. Now overgrown with trees, the moat is wet on 3 sides but partly dry on the SW side. Interior consists of a square bank wide enough for a walkway, surrounding a square pond, now large silted up - presumably originally a fishpond (S9).

Sources/Archives (14)

  • <R1> (No record type): Copinger, Manors of Suffolk, 1, Babergh Hundred.
  • <M1> Unpublished document: Suffolk Archaeological Service. Parish file. Parish file: part photo of (S5), copy of (S7), notes and tracing from (S8),.
  • <S1> Bibliographic reference: 1911. VCH Suffolk 1. 604.
  • <R2> (No record type): OS, 6 inch map, 1928 & 1958 "Moats (GT)".
  • <M2> (No record type): field notes 1993 by EM.
  • <S2> Index: OS. OS Card. OS, card TL84NE8.
  • <R3> (No record type): Whitelock D (ed), Anglo-Saxon Wills, 1930.
  • <S3> (No record type): Hart C R, The Early Charters of Eastern England, 1966, 59 & 61.
  • <S4> (No record type): Scarfe N, The Suffolk Landscape, 1972, 131-4.
  • <S5> (No record type): Map at Melford Hall; redrawn simplified copy published by Long Melford Historical Society, c.1990.
  • <S6> (No record type): Map at Melford Hall; distorted photograph SRO(B) 2130/2; also sketch by A Teece.
  • <S7> (No record type): Transcript supplied by A Teece of original at Melford Hall.
  • <S8> (No record type): SRO(B), T92/1,2.
  • <S9> (No record type): E Martin, 1993.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

Record last edited

May 22 2019 2:14PM

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