Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet


SmallBridge Hall - Tudor Hunting Lodge

smallbridge hall

A ferret has provided an unwitting link to the present for a Tudor Hunting Lodge in Wormingford.

Historians and archaeologists had no idea that such a building existed on the slopes overlooking the village and its Elizabethan Hall, until three men out hunting rabbits lost one of their ferrets.

Thanks to a radio tracking device it was wearing, the animal was soon found. But while digging it out, they also discovered along a meadow boundary, the remains of a 16th-century brick wall.

Colchester Archaeological Group were invited to investigate this anomaly.
Amazingly, they found the remnants of a Hunting Lodge which had been the subject of many folk tales over the years


Back as far as 1340 records indicate a Deer Park on the south side of the River Stour. It was the pastime of the gentry to watch the Deer being herded and culled. One text records, "wave after wave of deer herded to meet a shower of crossbow bolts fired from this platform"
It is difficult to say when the Lodge was built, but it appears for the first time on a map by Norden in 1594.

However Queen Elizabeth 1 visited Smallbridge and Lodge Hills in 1561 and it is not unreasonable to assume the Lodge may have been in existence at that time.

North facing boundary wall
Corner of building
Site excavation

Bricks unearthed from foundations

Probable line of track down to the river and into
Smallbridge Hall.

Smallbridge in the distance with the River Stour running in front.
Old maps indicate a track from the Hunting Lodge down to the river and
then over a "bridge" to the Hall. (see left image)
This is the Front view of the property.
hunting lodge
Similar Hunting Lodge at Long Melford Hall
It`s a rare survival of Tudor architecture dating from the early 17th century.
Map dated 1777 clearly shows the Lodge with two buildings

Was the Lodge inhabited ?
Records indicate Giles Barnardiston retired to the Lodge in 1651 after moving from Clare. He was married to Phillipa Waldegrave.
He only stayed until 1669 when he moved back to Clare.
Link to Barnardiston Family Tree

When did it disappear ?
A map by CJ Greenwood dated 1825 clearly shows the Lodge, but by 1838 the new Ordnance Survey map show no sign of it.
So we must assume in those intervening 13 years it was demolished.

Interesting to note that identical bricks to those used on the Lodge have been found within a property in Wormingford.

The specific whereabouts of this site have been withheld in order to preserve its integrity.

This site is on private property and has been subject to various geophysic surveys as well as conventional metal detection.
Private metal detectors are not permitted, especially as the site has yet to be thoroughly investigated.

Acknowledgment to Colchester Archaeological Group for allowing publication of this material

Hunting Lodge, it seems likely that the land on which it stood was part of the Manor of Wormingford Hall. We know that Joan de Bures took a number of estates into her marriage to Sir Richard Waldegrave. As well as Smallbridge, they included Overhall and Netherhall in Bures, Wickhambrook and Great Waldingfield in Suffolk, and Foxearth and Borley in Essex, but there is no mention of Wormingford. The tenancy of the Manor of Wormingford Hall was acquired by Sir Richard before 1384, and the land on which the Lodge stands was definitely owned by the Waldegraves by 1528 (recorded in a document held by the Public Record Office). The sale of Wormingford Hall to John Currance in 1702 included the Lodge, which is last documented in a book published in 1836 ('The History and Topography of the County of Essex', Vol 1, by Thomas Wright)

Colour Photographs of site by Alan Beales 2009
Acknowledgement to John Moore, Colchester Archealogical Group