Constructed on arable fields forming part of the field system of Kington Tything by Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, in the early 16th century (the very end of the medieval period) Thornbury’s medieval fishponds were recorded as being established in 1520. Edward Stafford was executed for treason by Henry VIII in 1521 and whilst the ponds were surveyed as being intact in 1522, when surveyed in 1583 they were described as being ‘utterly decayed’. They were scheduled as an Ancient Monument by Historic England in 2011.
The ponds are fed by the Pickedmoor Lane Rhyne and are an important habitat for local wildlife. Works to maintain the ponds are, in 2022, taking place prior to the erection of new signboards and viewing platforms to aid the public’s enjoyment & understanding of the monument.
Some of the worst jobs in British history involved ponds: consider the poor leech collector, who had to use himself as a human trap, wading through ponds, bogs, and marshes to collect these blood-sucking worms for use in medicine. Ponds were also used to farm fish, ret cloth (the process of soaking hemp, flax, or other materials in water to soften and expose the fibres) and provide water for livestock and draft animals. Nowadays ponds are crucial for biodiversity – they support a huge diversity of life, including dragon flies, aquatic beetles, may flies, caddisflies and other endangered amphibians such as the great crested newt.