Burton upon Trent 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.

East Staffordshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 25080 22639


Part of the remains of Burton Abbey.

Reasons for Designation

From the time of St Augustine's mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597 to the reign of Henry VIII, monasticism formed an important facet of both religious and secular life in the British Isles. 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. It is estimated from documentary evidence that over 700 monasteries were founded in England. These ranged in size from major communities with several hundred members to tiny establishments with a handful of brethren. They belonged to a wide variety of different religious orders, each with its own philosophy. As a result, they vary considerably in the detail of their appearance and layout, although all possess the basic elements of church, domestic accommodation for the community, and work buildings. Monasteries were inextricably woven into the fabric of medieval society, acting not only as centres of worship, learning and charity, but also, because of the vast landholdings of some orders, as centres of immense wealth and political influence. Many monasteries acted as the foci of wide networks including parish churches, almshouses, hospitals, farming estates and tenant villages. Benedictine monasticism had its roots in the rule written about AD 530 by St Benedict of Nursia for his own abbey at Monte Cassino. Benedict had not intended to establish an order of monasteries and wider adoption of his rule came only gradually. The first real attempt to form a Benedictine order came only in 1216. The Benedictine monks, who wore dark robes, came to be known as `black monks'. These dark robes distinguished them from Cistercian monks who became known as `white monks' on account of their light coloured robes. Over 150 Benedictine monasteries were founded in England. As members of a highly successful order many Benedictine houses became extremely wealthy and influential. Their wealth can frequently be seen in the scale and flamboyance of their buildings. Benedictine monasteries made a major contribution to many facets of medieval life and all examples exhibiting significant surviving archaeological remains are worthy of protection. The remains of Burton Abbey survive as earthworks, buried foundations, and archaeological remains which will provide important information about the abbey and monastic life from the early 11th to 16th centuries.


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This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 9 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 partial remains of a Benedictine abbey in Burton upon Trent, situated on the western bank of the river Trent. The abbey was founded in 1002 by Wulfric Spott and dedicated to St Mary and Saint Modwen. The remains of a cloistral range of buildings lie immediately south west of modern day St Modwen’s church, beneath and south of Market Hall. They include the dorter (dormitories), frater (dining areas) and chapter house (meeting room), surrounding the cloister (courtyard with surrounding walkway). To the south lie the remains of a great chamber or manor house, on the site of the modern day manor house, and further south east lie the remains of the abbey infirmary and chapel, on the site of The Abbey Inn. The Abbey Inn, a grade II* Listed Building retains some 13th century upstanding remains including original arches and a timber roof incorporating wind braces which were part of the Great Hall and chapel of the Infirmary. To the west, the Manor House is a Grade II Listed Building that retains medieval remains including a chamber block and arched-braced roof. Further buildings and grounds including garden areas and fishponds surround this range of monastery buildings. The abbey precinct occupied an area of over 4 hectares and also contained the medieval abbey church on the site of the present day St Modwen’s Church, which sits to the north of the area of protection. The abbey was dissolved in 1545 and the manor house and infirmary were converted into residential use.


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

Legacy System number:
ST 243
Legacy System:


NMR: SK22SE3, Pastscape: 922436, NMR: SK22SE8, Pastscape: 922441


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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