Duck decoys are ponds or other bodies of water designed to attract and trap wildfowl. Attached to the ponds are a number of narrow curving channels, known as pipes, which were covered with nets; wildfowl were lured into these and captured. A particular distinctive form of decoy, known as the ‘skate’s egg’ form has a rectangular pond with a curving pipe at each corner.

Decoys were very much a feature of eastern England, with the largest numbers being recorded in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. In 1886 Suffolk had the largest number of working decoys in the country, with a concentration in the coastal areas. But a decline soon set in and today very few are in working condition.

The idea for decoys seems to have been imported from Holland in the early 17th-century, with the earliest English decoys dating from around the 1620s. The decoy at Friston is probably of 17th-century origin, making it contemporary with the oldest in England.

The Friston decoy in 1882, showing its ‘skate’s egg’ plan