Medieval deanery and college precinct north-east of St Editha’s Church.
Reasons for Designation
The term college is used to describe a variety of different types of establishment whose communities of secular clergy shared a degree of common life less strictly controlled than that within a monastic order. Although some may date to as early as the tenth century, the majority of English colleges were founded in the 14th or 15th centuries. Most were subsequently closed down under the Chantries Act of 1547. Colleges of the prebendal or portional type were set up as secular chapters, both as an alternative to the structure of contemporary monastic houses and to provide positions for clerics whose services the monastic establishment wished to reward. Some barons followed suit by setting up colleges within their castles, while others were founded by the Crown for the canons who served royal free chapels. Foundations of this type were generally staffed by prebends or portioners (priests taking their income from the tithes, or other income deriving from a village or manor). After 1300, chantry colleges became more common. These were establishments of priests, financed from a common fund, whose prime concern was to offer masses for the souls of the patron and the patron's family. They may also have housed bedesmen (deserving poor and elderly) and provided an educational facility which in some cases eventually came to dominate their other activities. From historical sources it is known that approximately 300 separate colleges existed during the early medieval and medieval period; of these, 167 were in existence in 1509, made up of 71 prebendal or portional colleges, 64 chantry colleges and 32 whose function was primarily academic. In view of the importance of colleges in contributing to our understanding of ecclesiastical history, and given the rarity of known surviving examples, all identified colleges which retain surviving archaeological remains are considered to be nationally important.
The medieval deanery and college precinct north east of St Editha’s Church survives as upstanding medieval fabric, buried foundations and archaeological remains which will provide important information relating to the construction, design, layout and use of the medieval deanery and college precinct as well as medieval society, its economy and environment in which it was constructed.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 2 June 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.
The monument includes the buried and upstanding remains of the medieval deanery and college precinct situated north east of St. Editha’s Church in Tamworth. Upstanding and buried remains of the medieval buildings associated with the deanery and collegiate church of St. Editha survive to the north east of St Editha’s Church. Much of the medieval buildings were destroyed in a fire in 1559, but upstanding medieval fabric still survives, including a west boundary wall of Norman origin and medieval fabric in the south precinct wall, which have been retained as property boundaries and form part of three Grade II listed buildings. Antiquarian descriptions have attested to the survival of a medieval undercroft which was accessible until the roofs sank and the cellars were filled in with soil in the 18th century. The origins of the site go back to the Anglo-Saxon period, excavation adjacent to the monument have confirmed the presence of burials and building remains dating to this period and it is believed that the church was sited within the enclosure of the Mercian royal palace.