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East Worldham Hunting Lodge

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
King John's Hill; Lodge Hill

In the civil parish of Worldham.
In the historic county of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Modern Authority of Hampshire.
1974 county of Hampshire.
Medieval County of Hampshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU75583772
Latitude 51.13378° Longitude -0.92117°

East Worldham Hunting Lodge has been described as a probable Palace.

There are no visible remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The hillfort on King John's Hill is unusually small in area and the defences, both natural and artificial, are relatively slight. In this respect the monument falls between the comparatively high status settlement indicated by a fort and several classes of smaller defended settlements and enclosed farmsteads found throughout south western and central southern England. It survives well, despite some disturbance by subsequent quarrying, and partial excavation has shown that it retains archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument's original construction and use and its subsequent re-occupation during the later medieval and post-medieval periods. The traditional association of the site with one of King John's hunting lodges, for which some archaeological evidence survives, demonstrates the continued importance of the monument during the medieval period and illustrates an aspect of the activities of medieval nobility. Usually located within or adjacent to a deer park, the construction of such lodges and the laying out of associated parks attained a peak period of popularity between 1200 and 1350, coinciding with a time of considerable prosperity among the aristocracy, that still exerts a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern landscape.
The monument includes a small multivallate hillfort of Late Iron Age date, prominently situated on the summit of King John's Hill, a steep sided, Greensand tor rising 700m east of East Worldham. The simple fort defences completely enclosed the flat summit of the hill, forming a roughly oval, north-south aligned interior area of approximately 0.8ha. Subsequent quarrying for malm has caused significant disturbance to the northern part of the monument, removing the defences in this area. Elsewhere, the defences survive as two concentric scarps separated by a broad ledge, except to the north east where access to the interior is obtained by way of a steep spur which is cut at the base by a slight transverse ditch. This ditch extends into a later boundary feature that curves around the eastern base of the hill, enclosing a series of irregular, possibly natural terraces on the fort's lower flank. Partial excavation of the monument in 1939 and 1947 yielded fragments of pottery and other items indicating a Late Iron Age date of around 100 BC, and revealed two infilled storage pits. Further buried remains associated with the original use of the monument, including traces of round houses, compounds, granaries, iron ore smelting hearths and outbuildings, can be expected to survive within the interior of the fort. The excavations also revealed debris and buried structural remains associated with at least two later phases of use of the monument. These include fragments of medieval pottery dated to the 13th and 14th centuries, squared ashlar blocks, and other building materials that lend support to a local tradition that King John had a royal hunting lodge built on the hill's summit. Further support is lent by documentary evidence which records the existence of a deer park at East Worldham from at least 1372. The excavations also revealed several short lengths of rough stone wall, rammed malm floors, an oven and stoke hole made of burnt clay or mortar, and numerous bricks, tiles and other building materials dated to the Tudor and post-medieval periods. (Scheduling Report)

The remains of a probable medieval hunting lodge have been excavated on King John's Hill. The name is somewhat misleading. Documentary evidence suggests that a lodge and associated buildings were erected in Worldham in the 1370s by order of Edward III. The hill's alternative name of Lodge Hill shows they were probably sited there. The private park had come into the King's hands a few years earlier and it was then enlarged, taking in some of Woolmer Forest and Binswood. (Worldham Parish Plan 2010)

In 1374, John de Burghersh conveyed East Worldham to the King, who may have built a new lodge within Worldham Park. There is documentary evidence for minor works to the manor house, but none to a hunting lodge. (PastScape ref. HKW)

It may well be this lodge was intended as a bailiff or forester residence and offices rather than a royal residence. This site, as with a number of other small lodges, may never have been intended as a royal residence but may represent the residence and offices of a park bailiff built in style which reflected that positions royal authority. However, could also represent ancillary accommodation for the usual large royal retinue.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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