The below ground remains of the former chapel at Membury Court


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Membury Court, Membury, Axminster, EX13 7TL


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Statutory Address:
Membury Court, Membury, Axminster, EX13 7TL

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 26411 03814


The below ground remains of a former late-C13/early-C14 chapel.

Reasons for Designation

The below ground remains of the former medieval chapel at Membury Court, Membury, Devon, is included on the Schedule for the following principal reasons: * Period/ Representativity: this is a representative example of a medieval manorial chapel with reasonable survival for its type and locality; * Rarity: early-medieval chapel sites are relatively uncommon; * Survival/ Condition: archaeological evaluation has demonstrated that part of the footings survives reasonably well; * Potential: the site has potential for adding to our understanding of medieval construction techniques and the evolution of early medieval manorial sites.


There is evidence of Romano-British occupation in the vicinity of Membury Court, and a Roman villa site was excavated in the field to the north of the former medieval chapel in 2014. At Domesday (1086), Membury Court was the manor house of the Manor of Membury, and was given to Goldcliff Priory in Monmouthshire by owner Robert de Chandos in 1113. Under the priory it was farmed by various individuals, possibly including Benedictines. A tax survey of Membury in 1324 noted a manor court house and two mills, and payment to a ‘clerik’. Although there was no mention of a chapel it is thought to have been constructed in the late C13/ early C14. The Manor reverted to the Crown in 1414 when the alien priories were suppressed, and subsequently it was granted to the Duke of Warwick who annexed it to the Abbey of Tewkesbury. The Manor of Membury was presented by the Crown to the Dean and Chapter of Windsor in 1474, and continued in their possession until it was transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1867. The earliest surviving fabric within the house at Membury Court, in the medieval hall house roof, probably dates to the late C14 or early C15. The chapel was altered in the C15, with the insertion of a first floor, possibly when the adjacent hall house was extended to the east.

The first reference to a chapel on the site is in a 1560 survey when Membury Court was under the ownership of the Chace or Chase family, which states “cum capella adiacent” (“with adjacent chapel”). Later investigation has shown that the structure probably dates to the early C14. A 1649-50 survey describes a chapel but suggests that it was used as a stable with a loft above. By the time of a 1795 survey it is described as “The Old Chapel now turn’d into a Cyder House most of it new built”.

The building is shown on historic maps from the 1840 tithe. Adaptations to the cider house were made in the C19 and C20, and by the early C21 it was being used to house livestock, when the roof structure was replaced. An archaeological investigation of the building took place in 2006, prior to its conversion to domestic use.


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: the below ground remains of a former chapel of circa late-C13 date.

DETAILS: broadly rectangular on plan, the medieval chapel was constructed of rubble stone, the footings of which survive below ground. Post-holes were found at the east end during a limited excavation and evaluation in 2006. Further medieval structural remains probably survive below ground elsewhere within the monument. Remains in the west end include a pre-1790 stone-lined drain, an eighteenth century cobble and stone chip floor, eighteenth century footings and a nineteenth/ twentieth century drain. In the central bay is evidence of a nineteenth/ twentieth century cobble floor. The full extent of the medieval chapel is not known. Finds on the site have mainly been eighteenth or nineteenth century earthenware, although a small number have been of sixteenth or seventeenth century date.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING: a buffer of 2m is included all around the monument for the support and preservation of the site.

EXCLUSIONS: all above ground structures.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
DV 418
Legacy System:


Devon and Dartmoor HER: MDV5621 - Chapel and Cider House, Membury Court, accessed 19/02/2015 from
An archaeological evaluation of Membury Court Chapel and Cider House, Stewart Brown Associates, 2006
Membury Court, Devon: Medieval House and Chapel, J Thorp, 1993


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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