Across the field at High Lodge, at the opposite end to the Information Point and the cafe, is a line of tall lime trees forming an avenue. Their size suggests that they were planted at least in the 1900s and probably earlier.
An avenue is one of the oldest ideas in the history of garden design and is often used to lead to or emphasise a particular feature or building in the landscape.
In order to enhance the approach to a manor house or hall, avenues were planted along the entrance drive and were usually in double rows on each side of a road. Lime was favoured for its height and speed of growth.
The diarist John Evelyn is credited by many with introducing the idea of the avenue to England, by praising the French and Dutch plantings he had seen in his 1664 publication Sylva and subsequently planting the first double avenue of limes at Sayes Court in Deptford. He visited Euston Hall (near Thetford) in 1671 and designed an avenue of yew trees there.
There are two avenues of lime trees leading to Santon Downham from the Brandon and Thetford roads. These are thought to have been planted by order of the Duchess of Cleveland as a memorial to her husband, Lord William John Frederick Powlett, later 3rd Duke of Cleveland who died in 1864.
It is not clear why there was a lime avenue at High Lodge, near the site of the farmhouse. Such a building was not usually important enough to merit an avenue leading to it. Maybe there were some young trees left over from the planting of the avenues at Santon Downham!
The limes can be seen in the 1947 photograph of High Lodge.