Kenninghall East Hall

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Other/Unknown), and also as a Questionable Palace (Royal), and also as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are earthwork remains

NameKenninghall East Hall
Alternative NamesCastle Yards; Candle Yards
Historic CountryNorfolk
Modern AuthorityNorfolk
1974 AuthorityNorfolk
Civil ParishKenninghall

Site of the Medieval moated manor house of East Hall, demolished in the early C16. Candle making is supposed to have been undertaken on the site in C16, hence the alternative name 'Candle Yards'. The moat was formerly a double enclosure, but the west side of the west enclosure has been infilled. There is a fishpond adjacent to the east side and two detached ponds south of the south-east corner. (PastScape)

A town of large extent, and great antiquity, so called from Cyning which in Saxon signifies a King, so that Cyning or Kenninghad, signifies the King's House, and according to the etymology, it hath been a seat of the East-Anglian Kings, who are said to have had a castle here, which indeed seems true; the site of it is now called the Candle-Yards; (because the offices for that purpose were built in it, when Thomas, the great Duke of Norfolk, built the palace, this place being distant enough, to hinder the smell reaching it;) it is southwest of the palace about a furlong, being a square of four acres, encompassed with a spacious trench, at each corner is a mount, but that to the south-east is much the largest; the manor-house continued through all its changes in this place, till the Duke pulled it down, and built that stately house at the distance before mentioned, which was after called Kenninghall Palace or Place ... Spelman, in his Icenia, hath nothing more of this town, than that it was the seat of some of the chiefest barons. That it belonged to the Crown in the most early times is plain, for the Confessor had it in his own hands, it being then worth 10l. a year and 5 sextaries of honey; but it was risen by the Conqueror's time to 24l. of uncoined money, to be paid by weight, and 6l

of coined money, which was paid by tale, and a fine at each king's accession, (for so I take Terthuma in the Saxon to signify.) It had a freeman and 30 acres belonging to it in Gnateshall, and West Herling also was a berewic to it It was then three miles long, and one mile broad, and paid 25d. Danegeld. It always was and is now, privileged as ancient demean, the inhabitants being excused from toll, passage, and stallage, and from serving on any juries out of the lordship, and paying towards the charges of the knights of the shire, upon renewing their writ of exemption on the death of every king, and having it annually allowed by the sheriff of the county. (Blomefield)

Gatehouse Comments

This site is the largest and highest status secular moat in Norfolk. Sometimes said, by county gazetteers, to be vestiges of a royal castle of Boadicea and the East Anglian kings. Certainly seems likely to be the site of a royal Saxon residence, although it may be questioned if this could be called a castle. Such a significant and important medieval manor house is likely to have had much martial architecture including crenellations and a gatehouse.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTM065855
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  • Liddiard, R., 2000, Landscapes of Lordship (British Archaeological Reports British Series 309) p. 108
  • Blomefield, F., 1805, 'Hundred of Giltcross' An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk Vol. 1 p. 213-227 (tenurial history) online transcription


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 317 (Confused with legend of Kenninghall Castle (qv))
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1909, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 4 p. 120 online copy