Pro­vid­ing fresh fish

Landscape (UK) - - Our Landscape -

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.

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