Bordesley Abbey


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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

Redditch (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 04880 68726


Bordesley Abbey 660m north-west of Papermill Farm.

Reasons for Designation

Settlements of religious communities, including monasteries, were built to house communities of monks, canons (priests), and sometimes lay-brothers, living a common life of religious observance under some form of systematic discipline. Some 75 of these religious houses belonged to the Cistercian order founded by St Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th century. The Cistercians - or `white monks', on account of their undyed habits - led a harsher life than earlier monastic orders, believing in the virtue of a life of austerity, prayer and manual labour. Seeking seclusion, they founded their houses in wild and remote areas where they undertook major land improvement projects. Their communities were often very large and included many lay brethren who acted as ploughmen, dairymen, shepherds, carpenters and masons. The Cistercians' skills as farmers eventually made the order one of the richest and most influential. They were especially successful in the rural north of England where they concentrated on sheep farming. The Cistercians made a major contribution to many facets of medieval life and all of their monasteries which exhibit significant surviving archaeological remains are worthy of protection. Despite partial destruction, archaeological excavation and the insertion of tracks and path surfaces, Bordesley Abbey survives comparatively well. The monument is of considerable interest with many differing features showing provision for worship, settlement and subsistence. The monument will include layers and deposits containing important archaeological information relating to its use and construction.


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This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 20 May 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records. As such they do not yet have the full descriptions of their modernised counterparts available. Please contact us if you would like further information.

This monument includes a Cistercian Abbey and chapel situated on the south side of the River Arrow, south west of its confluence with Batchley Brook. The monument survives as visible earthworks including banked enclosures, building platforms, hollow ways, leats and fishponds, together with stone walls and buried features of the abbey, chapel, watermill and workshops. The abbey enclosure is denoted on the east, north and north western sides by a bank up to 2.2m high and 3m wide. Within the enclosed area are animal enclosures and building platforms that are up to 1m high with hollow ways linking the platforms and enclosures. At the northern end of the site are two large fishponds, the largest is approximately 120m long with a dam bank up to 3m high and is linked by a leat to a smaller pond on the west. Additional fishponds are located throughout the site and are connected by leats and banked water channels. The principal abbey buildings are located on the western side of the side and were constructed in the 12th century of green and red sandstone with additions during the 13th and 14th centuries. Walls of the abbey church up to 2m high are visible and represent the remains of the north aisle and arcade, the tower passage, the western transept and the south and west cloister walls. Excavations have uncovered further cloister foundations, the south transept and chapels, a night stair and a large number of burials. South east of the abbey church is a ditched enclosure which excavation has shown to contain a large post built structure with evidence of considerable smithing activity. On the western side of the site are the rectangular earthwork remains of the gatehouse, Chapel of St. Stephen and a graveyard with 17th and 18th century tombstones. To the north of the abbey church the location of the fish ponds and leat system suggests the presence of a watermill.

The Cistercian Abbey was founded in 1138 by Waleran de Beaumon. The abbey church and monastic buildings were demolished in 1538. The Chapel of St. Stephen was constructed during the 13th century and was used as a parish church for the local population so they would not disturb the monks at the abbey church. It remained the parish church until 1805 when it was demolished for its stone.


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

Legacy System number:
WT 261
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Page, W, Willis-Bund, J W (editors), The Victoria History of the County of Worcester: Volume IV, (1924)
Pevsner, N, Brooks, A, The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, (2007)
Greene J P. 2005., Medieval Monasteries. Studies in Medieval History. Continuum.
Pastscape Monument Nos:- 328701, 328710, 328748 & 326868


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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