Monument record BSE 378 - Thingoe House, Bury St Edmunds, (Medieval-Post Medieval)

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Medieval and Post medieval occupation and garden features identified by medieval quarry pits, probable kitchen, extensive oven debris, a clay floor, post built structures, planting beds and a medieval well.


Grid reference Centred TL 8566 6441 (75m by 57m)
Map sheet TL86SE


Type and Period (23)

Full Description

2011: An archaeological evaluation was carried out on land to the rear of Thingoe House. The site spans a one block area within the town's medieval grid between Northgate Street, an axial road that leads to one of the town's gates and Cotton Lane, a back lane bordering the River Lark's flood plain. The earliest feature was the large ditch which formed a boundary on the floodplain edge; the ditch was filled in by the c.12-13th century but the boundary itself, later defined by a fence line, remained in existence until recently. Medieval pits, dated to 12-14th century were found within the floodplain and were probably excavated to extract the quality gravels which existed here. A layer of structural clay also indicated that some form of building or workshops existed in this area at this time. Above the floodplain post-built structures and the presence of extensive oven debris were found within what would have been an area of urban backyards. A square flint-lined well and the remains of an associated outbuilding dating to the late 15th-early 16th and late post-built structures sealed and cut the medieval backyard deposits but there was an absence of later material below the flood plain suggesting that it had become the garden by the c.15th century. The remains of a post-medieval building shown on Warren's map of 1747 were found to fronting onto Cotton Lane (S1).

2012: A second phase of archaeological evaluation was carried out and identified archeaeological features of 17th-18th century date or earlier, together with soil deposits and horticultural features associated with the extensive gardens, laid out in the 19th century and shown on the early editions of the Ordnance Survey maps. The best preserved and most complex archaeological deposits exist across the centre of the site with evidence of activity indicating c.13th-18th century occupation represented by rubbish pits, and ovens. Out-buildings and structures were erected during the later and early post medideval period and extend back from the street frontage. The western area seems to have been subject to a campain of gravel extraction (S3)

2014: Excavation revealed Medieval and Post medieval occupation and garden features. Evidence includes extensive quarry pits and a probable kitchen 12th-14th century, a number of late medieval and post medieval buildings and associated cess-pits and a stone-lined well. Horticultural features, including planting beds, pits and paths were also recorded across the site which date from the early post medieval to modern periods, some of which can be realted to cartographic depictions of the Georgian and Victorian gardens associated with Mustow House and Thingoe House. Moderately large assemblages of brick/tile and pottery were recovered, along with shards from several Venetian-style glass vessels and numerous metal objects. Items of note include a group of 17th century plant pots, fragments of possible water pipes, a complete tin-glazed earthenware Albarello and part of a veil or head dress frame; most of these were found in the backfill of the stone-lined well. Other metal finds include part of a copper alloy mirror case, two 'Boy Bishop' tokens, numerous dress accessories and items related to horses.

The earliest activity identified was medieval quarrying which had been on an industrial scale, extending from close to Thingoe House at the western edge of the site down to the frontage of Cotton Lane at the eastern edge. During the 13th to 14th century there was both an increase and change in the type of activity evident within some parts of the site although quarrying appeared to have continued in other areas. A shift to domestic occupation was indicated by a sequence of four ovens/hearths and associated floors. By the late medieval/early Post medieval period much of the excavated area may have been relatively open/occupied by garded plots with significant ground works and levelling during the later medieval period. Outbuildings were built towards the centre of the middle terrace/plot. The outbuildings had gone out of use by the 17th century and it is possible that the kitchen burnt down at a similar time evidence by a distinct layer of charcoal or ash which sealed the uppermost floor overlaying the hearth. The next phase of activity in the 16/17th-early 18th century is represented by the construction of additional outbuildings, cess pits and associated surfaces and features. Formal or designed garden elements also appeared. A dramatic change of land use occurred in the later post medieval period, which saw the abandonment and demolition/levelling of the remaining outbuildings and the establishment of a series of formal gardnes and associated boundaries. This probably occurred in the early 18th century and was certainly well-established by the time Warren surveyed his map of Bury, published in 1747. During the Victorian period there appears to have been further re-organisation of the back plots/gardens, perhaps associated with the building of Thingoe House. The final phase of activity incorporates modern features associated with the construction of the former office block in the mid-late 20th century and realted surfaces, paths and garden soils (S2).

Sources/Archives (3)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Gill, D.. 2011. Archaeological Evaluation Report, Thingoe House, Bury St Edmunds, BSE 378.
  • <S2> Unpublished document: Clarke, R.. 2014. Post-excavation Assessment, Medieval and post-medieval occupation and garden features, Thingoe House, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
  • <S3> Unpublished document: Gill, D.. 2012. Archaeological Evaluation Phase 2, Land to the rear of Thingoe House, Bury St Edmunds.

Finds (39)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Jan 21 2020 1:00PM

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