Downham High

Downham High Warren

Map of Location

Warren Features

Boundary Banks

One of best-preserved warrens in terms of its perimeter banks. With High Lodge Forest Centre as a major focus for visitors , the former warren is criss-crossed by a network of footpaths and cycle routes.

1 Double banks, inner 7m wide x 0.3m high with visible ditches either side. Outer, on Lingheath side, 7m wide x 0.1m high. At TL80483 85047 outer bank is 15m wide but only 0.2m high with old oaks on top(this may be boundary bank of Lingheath Poors Allotment).
2 Double banks. Easterly is continuation of inner bank of Section 1; 8m wide x 0.6m high. Outer bank is insubstantial 0.3m wide x 0.2m high with oaks on top
4 Three banks 5m wide x 0.6m high within plantation but at TL80125 83883 innermost bank peters out. 6m between banks.
5 Double banks, inner 4.5m wide x 0.6m high and outer 4m wide x 0.7m high; 6m apart. In tree crop and with bracken covering. Brash-Rows crosswise.
6 Double banks disappear because of pits but to the east is a third bank 7m wide x 0.6m high with wide, flat top. Bracken covered.
7 Three banks are just visible through young trees. Easternmost 5m wide x 0.7m high then 10m to next (middle) bank 7m wide x 0.6m high and then 10m to next bank 6m wide x 0.6m high. Bracken covered.
8 Three banks go across corner into plantation and then cross open area. Outer bank, nearest track, disappears as turns south. Bracken covered.
NB In Sections 3-8, banks within plantations have been left unplanted.
9 Single bank very indistinct but just possible at edge of plantation.
10 Single bank on east side of track 0.3m wide x 0.2m high, planted over with trees. At TL81726 83005 single bank on other side of track runs parallel and then further west is another single bank 5m wide x 0.6m high, domed shape. High Wrong Corner TL81726 82005
Fragments of tile and mortar. Lodge Site as marked on Petre Estate Map.
11 Three banks. Eastern is 7m wide x 1m high flat-topped as boundary with Thetford Warren.
Westernmost low, 0.4m wide x 0.3m high. Middle bank close to track and mostly indistinct.
12 Eastern bank continues 3m wide x 0.4m high but damaged by machinery. Western is 0.5m wide x 0.6m high.
13 These banks are lost over Forest Exit Drive but then continue on north side of Exit Drive. Thetford Warren (eastern) 5m wide x 0.7m high. At TLl82876 84812 two diagonal banks at an angle – a gate ? Easternmost bank continues and crosses  track 10m wide x 0.3m high. Trees on top to track and then crosses area of clearfell. Western bank is faint through plantation but visible in clearfell.
14 Northern boundary of warren alongside Thetford to Brandon Road. Slight intermittent rise in ground may be bank but not possible to say whether warren bank or roadside bank.

Trapping Banks

Possible parallel linear banks i.e. trapping banks?   Yes: centred on TL80125 83883 is an area of such complex bank alignment that detailed surveying is needed.

Rabbit Feeding

SMR notes that rectangular enclosure marked on 1:10,000 map on NW side of boundary opposite other enclosure (& parallel cropmarks on Norfolk side).


Low bank running NW-SE across grass immediately to the south of Oak Lodge Community Building marks warren lodge site. ‘Lodge Field’ to north of above building is bounded by banks up to 0.75 metres high in places. NB This ‘Field’ is area of public recreation.
Well (now blocked in and covered over) at TM811849

Earliest documentary evidence

As part of manor of Downham Ixworth or Downham Priory from 1250 [WSROB 651/31/4

Sequence of ownership taken from Blomefield History of Norfolk]

Other documentary evidence

1440s Ixworth Priory
The warren was in existence by the 1440s when poaching gangs are recorded as operating

As part of manor of Downham Ixworth or Downham Priory from 1250.

1538 Richard Codington owner of manor.

1569 Sold to Heighams of Gazeley who were related by marriage to Wrights of Kilverstone.

1618 Passed to Robert Wright with leasee William oliver.

1658 Owned by Thomas Wright, son of above and descendants.

1778 Sold to Charles Sloane Cadogan, Surveyor of the King’s Gardens.

1830 Sold to Lord William John Frederick Powlett

1871 Sold to Edward Mackenzie

1918 Sold to a succession of land speculators and companies until in
1924 Acquired by the Forestry Commission.
[WSROB 651/31/4
Sequence of ownership taken from Blomefield History of Norfolk]’
‘Poaching’, ‘The warren was in existence by the 1440s when poaching gangs are recorded as operating  19 Sept 1445 Elveden gang armed with soldiers’ tunics, helmets, staves and cudgels  attacked a gang from Thetford on Downham Warren. Three from Elveden wounded and ‘carried without licence to the town of Thetford and there unjustly imprisoned’.
[WSROB 651/31/4.]

Forestry Commission

1918 Sold to a succession of land speculators and companies until in
1924 Acquired by the Forestry Commission.

Boundary Banks

1778 Estate Survey Map names ‘warren bank’ and marks ‘doles’ at regular intervals round perimeter.

SMR Map of Cadogan Estate, 1791, depicts triangular mounds of (presumably) earth along western edge and mapped as doles.
April 1800 sketch plan of part of warren (including Downham Lodge in elevation) in Record Office (R1).
[NRO MC662/22 793X5, WSROB M550/3]


1783 Map shows ‘Downham Lodge’ at crossroads and with line of trees adjacent to it. Marked also on Cadogan Estate maps –see below.  The Cadogan Estate Map of 1791 shows the lodge site and the ‘Lodge Field’ which was enclosed by internal banks [Hodskinson]

Other documentary evidence

Reference to the ‘Little Cartway from Downham to Thetford parting the two  estates’ of Downham and Broomhill’

Diversion of highway 1800

Parish boundary Brandon and Downham 1824 [NRO MC662/22, WSROB Q/SH/87, WSROB Q/SH/15]

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