Beachamwell Warren


Beachamwell is one of the most important warrens in Breckland…

Warren Map

Warren Features

Boundary Banks

  • 1760 – Terrier ..Warren bank north and east… and a modus of one pound is paid a year on the warren • 1763 – Terrier ..and the warren bank north and east on the forty acres of smeath belonging to said Rectory…..a modus of one pound a year paid for a warren
  • 1766 estate map
  • 1770 – Terrier – as 1763
  • 1778 – banks with Quickfett Hedges
  • 1780 – lease Warren Farm and until the fifth of July proceeding the expiration of the lease keep all the banks and fences which may be made in and around the warren in thorough good repair and keep as far as possible all the rabbits within the warren and prevent their burrowing on other lands
  • 1842 estate map


Boundary Banks

Perimeter: 11.76 kilometres (7.3 miles) Area: 800 hectares (1950 acres) Approximately 50% forestry commission land and 50% agricultural land, contained within the parish of St Mary’s and St. Johns. (Historically Beachamwell comprised the parishes of St. Mary’s and St. John’s plus All Saints, and Shingham.) Much of the non-Forestry Commission land remained heath until mid-20th century. Northern perimeter runs from Hangover Hill (tumulus) to eastern parish boundary, parallel to Roman road (present A1122). 1946 aerial photos of Beachamwell Warren show the line of warren perimeter across agricultural land (the gap between perimeter and road originally was a furze belt). Eastern perimeter follows line of historic parish boundary that remains the current parish boundary dividing Beachamwell from Swaffham. Southern perimeter follows historic line of parish boundary of St. Mary’s and St. John’s, Beachamwell. (All Saints parish lies south of the perimeter.) Western perimeter perhaps marks the boundary between Barton Bendish and Beachamwell (see NRO: HARE 6811, late 16th century map). It is well east of Devils Dyke (Saxon earthwork) that later formed the boundary between Beachamwell St Mary’s and Barton Bendish. (This boundary between parishes has altered many times over the centuries.) At least 50% discernible banks – mostly within the Forestry Commission land, but with small area on south-western boundary on agricultural land Comments

  • Grid TF767090 to TF775090 (area 7 on map): 1 metre high at east end, ditches either side leading to possible double banks close together (overall width some 8 metres) to join forestry track 105 in the west. These are the most substantial banks surveyed within Forestry Commission land.
  • Grid TF779085 (area 5 on map) possible double bank south of Castle Acre Bottom.
  • Area 12 on our map – double in some places, single in others.
  • Area 22(a) double bank in firs and in meadow. All other banks are single.

Clapper Area

  • 1706 – extract of Terrier Clap Croft 40 acres, 3 roods
  • c.1727, 1791 or 94: undated Terrier for St. Mary’s – Clapp Croft mentioned three times: Item in the Clapp Croft 1 acr & 1 rd on the northside of ye said two Acre and a half Item half an Acr at the Eaft end of ye five rood in ye Clapp Croft a meare on ye North The sum of ye Arable ground besides the two Acr an a halfe in ye meffuage & six roods in ye Clapp Croft a ( ) acres roods


Earliest documentary evidence

c.1275 Earl of Clare Private letter from Norfolk Archaeological Unit 1996

Enclosure Acts

1774 agreement formalised by Act of Parliament (in Terrier for 1777)[NROCAT DN/TER 13/1]

Forestry Commission

Approximately 50% forestry commission land and 50% agricultural land, contained within the parish of St Mary’s and St. Johns. (Historically Beachamwell comprised the parishes of St. Mary’s and St. John’s plus All Saints, and Shingham.)

Internal Enclosures

Documentary evidence for crop-growing to feed the rabbits, such as rectangular enclosures 1785 Sergeant Le Blanc’s opinion concerning modus …but if certain parts thereof were to be plowed and sown with corn for two or three years and then with grass seeds more feed would be produced for the conies ad greatly improve for the warren by keeping the greater number of conies thereon…the warren has immemorially been plowed and produced corn…1842 estate map shows ‘sweepages’ and ‘burrowings’ [NROCAT: MC 1784/2 828X9, NROCAT MC 2506/2]


Main Lodge: 1595 – lodgeway (will of Thomas Tooke); 1776 – Estate map: but known as Warren House, shown with two rectangular buildings inside a square enclosure; 1795 – ‘lodge’ is marked on the same site on Faden’s map of Norfolk; 1826 – ‘warren house’ is marked on the same site on Bryant’s Map of Norfolk; (NB the names ‘Warren House’ and ‘Lodge’ seem to alternative over the years – ‘lodge’ is the current name for the site) Additional Lodges: 1851 three lodges: Warren Farm was built at Drymere c.1845 (a mile or so south-east of the Lodge); Lodge Farm (north-east of Lodge) also built c.1840; No earlier documents mention more than one lodge, neither does Bryant’s Map of 1826. [NROCAT DN/TER 13/1, NROCAT DN/TER 13/1,NROCAT 2506/1, NROCAT DN/TER 13/1, NROCAT BRA 242, NROCAT MC 1784/2 828X9] NROCAT MC 2506/2 NROCAT ANF Bale MF195 NROCAT MC 1784/1 Lark’s Press Lark’s Press Census return Plan in St. Mary’s Bwell Local knowledge Lark’s Press


Grid ref. TF765075, area 20 on map. the lodge was converted to early brick-built Victorian farm buildings for stabling horses, in use to mid-20th century – the site is now derelict. A pair of semi-detached Victorian cottages is nearby (now a holiday home, and previous one of two pairs of cottages). The name ‘Lodge’ seems to alternate with ‘Warren House’ on various maps. NB. Lodge Farm (Grid TF772082) and Warren Farm, (Grid TF777069) are Victorian buildings situated on Beachamwell Warren – we understand there were several more cottages built on the warren during second half of nineteenth century as the warren was taken into agricultural production but are no longer visible.

Number of Gates

Late 16th century picture map – ‘gate’ marked on the approx. site of the Narford Gate shown on the 1842 map 1740 – Narford Gate 1797 – gate marked on Faden’s map on the site of the Swaffham Gate shown on the 1842 map 1842 – Estate Map –Sheep Gate, Warren Brick Kiln Gate, Wellmere Gate, Brandon Gate, Cley Gate, Swaffham Gate, Narford Gate, Narborough Gate [NROCAT HARE 6811, NROCAT DN/TER 13/1, Lark’s Press, NROCAT MC 2506/3]

Number of Gates

  • The estate map of 1842 (NRO, MC 2506/2) shows nine warren gates – these are shown on the attached map. The gates are named as:
  • Sheep Gate (north-western boundary)
  • Warren Brick Kilm Gate (south-western boundary)
  • Wellmere Gate (southern boundary)
  • Brandon Gate (southern boundary)
  • Cley Gate (southern boundary)
  • Swaffham Gate (eastern boundary)
  • Narford Gate (northern boundary) – indicated on NRO: HARE 6811, late 16c map.
  • Narborough Gate (northern boundary) All the gateways remain public rights of way except the Swaffham and Sheep Gate.


Numbers Culled

1780 lease for Warren Farm: ‘And will deliver every year forty-five couple of rabbits free from expense to the landlords at Beachamwell and Narborough (fresh killed in their skins. ) ‘And will on the 5th Day of the last year deliver up 2500 Rabbits upon the Warren as Stock for the benefit of the Landlords without payment and if more to be paid on the 26th December following for half at the former slaughter price, half at the market price of the winter slaughter, the common expenses of killing, taking and carrying such Rabbits (overplus) to Brandon to be deducted therefrom.’ ‘….rabbits to Brandon are to be calculated and ascertained by the four persons so to be chose as aforesaid which expenses are to be deducted out of the money to be paid for the overplus rabbits on the day before appointed and if such four persons should not agree as to the number of overplus rabbits to be paid for as aforesaid or at the expenses before mentioned they shall chuse a fifth person as umpire to determine and value the matters and things referred to him and his valuation thereof shall be made on or before….. ‘… the last year’s rent not to be paid until the value of the overplus rabbits be paid to the tenants.’ NB: these extracts are of marginal notes in the lease book – fuller details in main body of the lease [NROCAT MC 1784/2, 828X9]

Other documentary evidence

1760 – Terrier; 1763 – Terrier; 1766 estate map; 1770 – Terrier – as 1763; 1778 – banks with Quicksett Hedges 1780 – lease Warren Farm; 1842 estate map. [NROCAT 2506/1, NROCAT DN/TER 13/1, NROCAT BRA 242, NROCAT MC 1784/2 828X9, NROCAT MC 2506/2]


1816 Letter from Motteux to Isaac Williams, gamekeeper, to get advice on dealing with poacher [NROCAT HMN 4/328 737X8]

Trapping Banks

Inner banks are mentioned in 1766 lease book required ‘banks and fences which may be made in and about said Warren to be kept in good repair and keep as far as possible all the rabbits within the warren and prevent their burrowing on other lands’ 1842 Estate map indicates an internal bank separating ‘sweepages’ from ‘burrowings’ [MC 1784/1 828X9, NROCAT MC 2506/2]


1678 Warrener John Cooper – will, left £20 to one daughter and monies to other people. [NROCAT microfilm MF/RO 465/13 no.32] The will of Thomas Fowler (NRO NAW 1598/9, 168 Bradfield) mentions legacies of over 200 ewes and 100 lambs (sharing warren) [Six Deserted Villages in Norfolk’, Davidson, East Anglian Archaeology Report No. 44, 1988]


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