The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Little Wenham Hall

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Wenham Castle; Wenham Parva

In the civil parish of Wenham Parva.
In the historic county of Suffolk.
Modern Authority of Suffolk.
1974 county of Suffolk.
Medieval County of Suffolk.

OS Map Grid Reference: TM080390
Latitude 52.01098° Longitude 1.03052°

Little Wenham Hall has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Emery writes "Nothing illustrates the hazy distinction between fortified and non-fortified defensive houses ... than Little Wenham Hall. This is one of the most memorable late C13 houses in England. Though the site is moated, we have no evidence about the form of the enclosure, and the surviving tower-like structure of c, 1265-80 was not defensive. Yet two centuries later, Gilbert Debenham (d.1481) and his son, Sir Gilbert (d.c.1495) - 'exceptionally able and unscrupulous villains' - were able to use Little Wenham Hall as a base for their malevolent attacks against all Lancastrian supporters."

Moated fortified manor house, built circa 1260-90 and altered circa 1569 and in the 19th and 20th centuries. The ground floor of the house is rib-vaulted and the first floor contains a chapel. A wing added to the south west corner, probably in the 16th century, was later demolished. This house represents one of the earliest uses of home made brick in England. (PastScape)

The C13 parish church, contemporary with the hall with some fine surviving wall paintings, seems to share the same enclosure as little Wenham Hall. The moat may never have enclosed the whole site and may have just been on the approach front of the house. There is some discussion as to if there was a timber hall attached to the brick chamber block and its size and form. Compare with Letheringham Hall a house attacked by Gilbert Debenham.
The Hall is sometimes said to have been built by Sir John Vallibus (aka Vaux) who was the tenant of the manor but this manor was sublet to a royal clerk Master Roger de Holbrook who is more probably the builder of this particularly fine building. As well as being a royal clerk and cleric Roger seems to have had some business interests in Ipswich. These interests may have meant Roger had relationships with Flanders and the Flemish brick making industry and the early bricks may well be Flemish imports or made by Flemish experts. The clerical status of Roger may explain the large, high quality chapel that features prominently in the Hall and the relative lack of domestic quarters reflecting the modest needs of a single man.
Gatehouse speculates the large chapel may have been useful for oath making associated with the legal and business interests of Roger Holbrook.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact