Providing fresh fish
The Manor would have had an extensive fish pond system in medieval times, with at least two ponds. Groups of up to 12, joined by leats or artificial water courses, have been recorded. Their size probably varied depending on their function, with larger ponds being used for storage, and the smaller, shallower ponds for spawning and breeding. This would have allowed fish of different ages and species to be kept. A water management system ensured the effective maintenance of the ponds. Inlet and outlet channels carried water to and from nearby rivers or streams. Sluices were set along the channels, leats and any dams, and an overflow leat could be provided to control fluctuations in water flow. These pond systems were a feature of wealthy medieval houses, both religious and secular. Difficulties of regularly obtaining fresh meat, combined with the Church’s requirements to avoid meat on certain days, made fish an important food source. This contributed to the high value placed on the systems, which ensured fish was not just available, but plentiful for those who could afford it.
Looking across the upper pond to the open fields beyond. One of two wells at the Manor, with a tall, single spire of viper’s bugloss, Echium vulgare, growing beside it. Behind is yew topiary. Looking out from within the Enclosed Herber, past the Poison Bed towards the 13th century church. White Rosa alba and red Rosa gallica, the apothecary’s rose, are intertwined through the trellis screening, providing fragrance and privacy. The Poison Bed is filled with plants used for medicinal purposes.