Brandon Warren

Map of Location

Warren Features

Other documentary evidence

Brandon Warren was owned by the Bishop of Ely and in existence by 1252 when manorial accounts record income from the sale of rabbits, the Brandon warreners having contracts with London merchants. The lodge built in 1368 was rebuilt in 1386 with an enclosure around it. The warren was still functioning in 1917 when it was described as ‘large and prolific’.
Account Rolls 1386-87.
Lease of warren 1563
Lease 1644
Highway diversion ‘through the warren ….in Brandon’ 1800
– also shows Downham Lodge. Brandon Warren then owned by Rear-Admiral George Wilson.
Draft Leases 1869-1895 Brandon and Santon Downham, including Low Lodge Farm
Brandon Estate 1897
Brandon Hall Estate Sales Particulars 1917  2 rabbit warrens ‘large and prolific’
[PRO SC61304/23-36, PRO E 310/24/138, WSROB HD1538/146 and HD1538/148/11 , WSROB,HD526/21/10,WSROB Q/SH/87, C114/2/1 583X4, WSROB HD1325/11, WSROB HD1325/62]’
‘Earliest documentary evidence’, ‘Brandon Warren was owned by the Bishop of Ely and in existence by 1252 when manorial accounts record income from the sale of rabbits, the Brandon warreners having contracts with London merchants.[PRO SC61304/23-36]

Boundary Banks

1590 Dispute over manor and warren ‘meets and bounds’

1612  Exchequer Depositions item ‘whether do you know or think that any of the fields of Brandon can be sufficiently defended against the coneys by a bank of earth ? ’ Reply ‘he thinketh that no bank of earth can sufficiently defend the fields of Brandon from the coneys for any long time.’

1802 Labourers making up a warren bank at Brandon


main lodge   1368 and this replaced by a ‘new lodge’ 1386-7 using stone for the corners from Northampton and timber from Norfolk

The Brandon Competus Rolls record the selling of ‘le lodge’ in the 1380s (probably meaning that the  materials were sold off ) and the erection of the ‘new lodge’ in 1386-7. (University of Chicago, Bacon Collection Com Rolls 652). The building accounts list stone from Northampton for the corners and also timber from Norfolk. (PRO E101.543/4).

The site of the lodge is marked on the 1791 Cadogan Estate Map and on Hodskinson’s 1783 Map of Suffolk. The First edition OS Map names it as ‘Two Chimney Lodge’. The Explorer 229 Map marks a well close to the lodge site.

Enclosure around lodge site on OS 1905 Map. [PRO E1010.543/,PRO E101.543/4, WSROB HD1538/146 and HD1538/148/11, WSROB E178/2166WA]

Wills’, ‘1643/44 Will of  Thomas Baker Warrener
1838 Will of Tyrell Garner, warrener and a trustee of the Gunflint Co.[WSROB FL536/11/32, PRO B11/2035]’
‘Rabbit Feeding’, ‘Competus Roll 1389-90 ‘in maintenance of the coneys in wintertime  60 sheaves, 1 quarter’[Mark Bailey The Marginal Economy]’
‘Trapping Banks’, ‘1251 Henry Pie had to supply 6 coney nets a year ‘dimidia duodena retina ad cuniculos’

1386-87 6d spent on 6 coney nets of rent, sold.

1389 6 Baltic boards bought for making 7 traps (laqueus  -Latin a noose)  in the warren 2s 6d [PRO SC61304/23-26]
Numbers Culled

1252 Manorial Accounts record the sale of rabbits  (PRO SC61304/23-26)
1385-6 2,772 conies sold for £36 16s 0d.
1386-87 Account Rolls 4,465 conies taken and sale generated £40 .4s.0d for 4 020 at price of £14.00 a long hundred.
1388 -89 £1.13s.4d for 200 coneys sold at the beginning of summer, price 2d per heads.  And for 3 720 coneys sold price 18s a long hundred. And fro 18s fro 120 coneus sold to the lord’s hospitaller total £30 9s 4d [PRO SC61304/23-26]


1376 Court fined John Gardiner of Langford and William Ram of Brandon for keeping dogs trained for poaching rabbits
1379-80 Warrener hired three men to protect him from ‘malefactors of the night’
Confession of Thomas Miller to poaching rabbits [Mark Bailey, The Marginal Economy,WSROB HD1538/43/118]
Enclosure Acts

1807 Enclosure Act exempts the warren ‘a certain tract of land and heath called Brandon Warren containing by estimation 2 800 and 20 acres (exclusive of that part of the said warren called the Severals and which contains by estimation, 372 acres). Act also stipulated that there should be no digging of turves ‘except for the purpose of repairing, supporting and mending the banks, walls and fences adjoining or belonging to Brandon Warren’[WSROB HD1964/2]
Forestry Commission

Largely covered with Forestry Commission plantations ‘

Boundary Banks

Brandon Warren lay between Wangford Warren and Downham High Warren.
Boundary Banks  Survive in sections between both adjacent warrens.

1 Single bank runs east side of A1065 with pines on top 5m wide x 0.7m high. Slightly domed shape to bank. Racks go across in places.
2 Ditch alongside road, on east side, with capped bank. Breckland pines c70 -100 years old.
Parallel to Section 1 is another single bank which may be boundary bank for Wangford Warren. 5m wide x 0.5m high. Birches on top. Disappears into undulating ground.
3 Line of bank disappears under ploughing but can be seen ‘end-on’ at ? 1m wide x 0.2m high.
4 Single bank visible as enters plantation through undulating ground. Bracken covered.
(Concrete Post – old landing light for Lakenheath)
5 Single bank low profile 1m wide x 0.3m high across clearfell, in a straight line. Grass and bracken covered.
6 Double banks in plantation. Northern bank 5m wide x 0.2m high but at some time has been ploughed and planted so furrows visible. Only 0.1m high for last 30m of this section. Parallel is lower bank to south, as picked up in section 7.
7 Across track, northern bank still very low at 0.1m and then disappears in de-stumped ground but to south, another bank runs parallel 6m wide x 1m high, cut through in two places by machinery. This southern bank 5m wide x 0.7m high continues across unplanted grassy area and runs diagonally across track. Very faint possible inner bank running parallel.  (Through Sections 6 and 7, there is a low bank on south side of track (Fire Route 4) which may be a boundary to the track itself).
8 Inner bank very faint for 12m then into disturbed ground of flint mines.
9 Bank 0.6m wide x 1m high which crossed track in Section 7 visible on south side of track in older Sots Pine. Cycle Trail crosses bank at TL77962 83081 Compartment 4577. Rack damage along length. Bracken covered.
10 Possible low bank 20m from centre of ride but deeply ploughed and planted.
6m wide x 0.2m high in places. Running parallel is very low bank on verge edge of track 0.4m wide x 0.1m high.
11 Very slight possibility of a bank but ground much disturbed. Is on line of bank as described in Section 10.
12 Double banks with possible ditch, each 5m wide x 1m high. Runs along eastern boundary of Lingheath before turning and merging into one bank at TL80181 85408. At TL80166 85461 bank cut by track and then runs into trees.
13 Double banks One high and very obvious bank 5m wide x 1.5 high and parallel and west of it is lower bank with pines on top, 4.5m wide x 0.7m high. Easterly bank then makes right-hand curve and runs north-south 3m wide x 0.8 m high at TL80086 85777. Main easterly bank is then curtailed by de-stumped crop but for a short distance before this curtailment there is a parallel bank which converges with this bank. At TL80039 85822 two banks are visible again with ditch between. Inner, northern bank 6m wide x 0.5m high; Lingheath, southern bank 0.3m wide x 0.1m high. At TL79910 86003 outer bank on Lingheath side 0.8m wide x 1m high and on inner side a slight and narrow bank 0.2m wide x 0.2m high and then peters out as road reached.
14 Very minor single low bank 0.2m wide x 0.1m high at times indistinct at edge of road.
15 Two banks just visible, one may be boundary of Lingheath and then both disappear in flint mine workings.
16 No bank visible.
17 At TL80180 85467 when low bank 3m wide x 0.2m high runs parallel to track to corner where turns.
18 Very faint small double banks 1m wide x 0.1m high.
19 No trace of bank but long lines of gorse either side of track.
20 No bank visible.
21 Double banks to north of track 5m wide x 0.5m high and only 5m apart. Trees on top. Parallel to these and 9m away is bank of Elveden Warren.


At TL798837 SMR BRD093 SF14539

February 2010 the site is a pile of rubble, formerly overgrown with scrub and trees, remnants of which still survive.  Very little of the rubble is visible to the naked eye due to a covering of bracken, moss, grass and thorns.  The intention of this preliminary examination was to attempt to date and phase the various sections of the building.  The methodology employed was firstly to clear the apparent corners of the structure, (using the last OS mapping as a guide), of undergrowth.  Following this it was hoped to be able to remove all fallen rubble from the outside of the corners to leave the in-situ material for recording (with removal of dateable samples).  In theory the location of the medieval element could be identified by its stone quoins.  Later extensions/additions would probably have brick quoins which could be broadly dated by typology.
Field work commenced on the morning of 28th February 2010 (in less than ideal conditions). The small team consisted of Colin Pendleton (SCCAS), Rachel Riley (FC, Conservation Officer), Anne Mason (Friends of Thetford Forest and co-ordinator of the Brecks Society Warrens Project) and Anne Howlett (FOTF & Brecks Society Warrens Project member).  In view of the weather conditions and time constraints it was decided to concentrate on the south wall (see plan).
The SW and SE corners were exposed and an area with relatively little rubble in the centre was also examined.  The material make up of the rubble on the NW corner was also briefly observed.
The south-west corner of the south wall (Photographs 5-7; IMG-3521-3523)
Unfortunately a major tree stump appears to occupy the position of the quoin!   Just to the east of the stump was a disturbed single brick though it is unclear whether this was part of an original quoin or just rubble.  The first in-situ material near the corner was an admixture of flint, chalk and mortar walling which extended for only about 1.25m before a solid, 3 courses wide (40cm), brick and mortar wall continued the line.  The bricks (BRD 093.001) were 58mm high, 110mm wide and 234mm long, of white firing clay fine sand with red clay pellets (FSCG) of Late or Post Medieval type and were probably of 18th century or later date (Pers. Comm. Richenda Goffin).  At present it is unclear whether the flint/chalk/mortar element to the W was later, or earlier with the brick element being a later repair or insert (from an in-filled door/window?).
The south-east corner of the south wall – the inner face of this wall (photos 3-4; IMG-3519 & 3520) was visible prior to removal of any rubble, and consisted of solid coursed bricks and mortar.  The wall was 35cm thick with the outer face (photos 1 & 2; IMG-3517 & 3518) consisting of brick headers intermixed with flint and mortar.  The quoin and E end of the wall (photos 3-4) was solid coursed bricks.  All bricks were of the same type (BRD 093. 002), 55mm high, 100mm wide and 220mm long, were white with red and white grog fabric which was poorly mixed and relatively irregular, and have been dated to the 13th – 16th century (Pers. Comm. Richenda Goffin).
The centre of the south wall – a rapid examination of this area of the wall alignment where little rubble appeared to be present was undertaken. No obvious wall line was visible without more intrusive and extensive excavation and it is possible the area had been disturbed (collapsing tree root?) or had formed an entrance way into the building.  Further work will be needed to resolve this problem.
The total length of the south wall was measured as 18.29m (60 feet) and from this limited examination would appear to consist of at least three separate construction phases.
The north-west corner – a no time was available to clear the larger amount of rubble from the N wall, a rapid examination was made of the visible rubble in the NW corner (which from the measurements may be part of the 14th century structure).  A mixture of materials was observed – mortar, flints (large), chalk, including part of a cut block, bricks, and one large fragment of hard clunch.  A loose red brick sample from this area (BRD 093.003), 60mm high, 108mm wide and 229mm long, of poorly mixed clays, has measurements corresponding to bricks of late 17th to early 18th century date (Pers. Comm. Richenda Goffin).  It is unclear how significant this rubble may be to the in-situ material that presumably lies below as it may have derived from other parts of the structure.

Colin Pendleton, Historic Environment Record Officer March 2010

Boundary Banks

Surface archaeological investigation is on-going and records will be updated.  See SMR BRD 082 SF13407 for details of two unexplained mounds at TL79938254 and TL79898260.

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