Warren Lodge, Thetford
Dated to about 1400, this was a fortress to stop rabbits. After being reintroduced by the Normans, rabbits became a luxury item in 15th-century. They were prized for both their meat and fur. Landowners feared armed bands of violent bunny poachers so much they constructed impenetrable lodges and employed a resident “warrener” to tend to and defend their precious fluffy-tailed resource.
With three-foot thick walls, defensive arrow slits, and once-barred windows, it’s a testament to the value landowners and poachers alike once attributed to rabbits. Inevitably, the intrinsic value of rabbits fell as the captive critters escaped their guardians and bred, as they do, in the wider countryside. Most warren lodges were abandoned by the 18th century. However, Thetford Warren Lodge was in continuous use as a place to store and dry rabbit skins until it was damaged by fire in 1935. Its late survival is thanks to the sandy soil of the Breckland, which is not well suited for commercial agriculture. Rabbits and flint remained the lifeblood of the local economy until the 20th century.
Legend has it that a giant spectral white rabbit with glowing red eyes haunts this place. According to documented history, this horror bunny foretells the impending doom of all who see it. In addition to the supernatural bunny, the lodge was once a leper’s house, and is haunted by the ghost of a man.