Dieu-la-Cres Abbey (remains of)
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1006107
Date first listed: 09-Apr-1964
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Oct-2018 at 12:26:35.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Staffordshire Moorlands (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SJ 98328 57875
Part of a Cistercian Monastery known as Dieulacres Abbey within the grounds of Abbey Farm.
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. They were established in all parts of England, some in towns and others in the remotest of areas. Many monasteries acted as the foci of wide networks including parish churches, almshouses, hospitals, farming estates and tenant villages. 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.
The Cistercian monastery known as Dieulacres Abbey within the grounds of Abbey Farm survives well despite the robbing of the majority of its materials. Buried foundations, archaeological and environmental remains survive and will contain important information about the construction, layout and daily life of the community at the abbey.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 25 June 2015. The 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 standing structural and some of the buried remains of a Cistercian monastery known as Dieulacres Abbey, situated on the northern side of the Churnet valley. Dieulacres was founded in 1214 when the Abbey of St Mary and St Benedict was moved from Poulton to a new location north of Leek, the abbey remained in use until 1538 when it was surrendered to the Crown. The inventory made at the time of its dissolution consisted of the Abbot and twelve other monks, with 30 servants, 8 lauders and ‘poor bede women’ and 19 lay officials. Many of the abbey’s materials, furnishings and goods were sold off at this time. The upstanding remains visible today consist of the clustered shaft bases of three choir piers and a length of wall, constructed of coursed and square sandstone. Excavation and watching briefs have identified medieval deposits, the south range and other buildings of the abbey complex. In the 16th and early 19th century the building of Abbey Farm, byre and barns partially on the site of the monument recycled stone from the abbey and many carved pieces of stone including corbel heads, roof bosses, moulded capitals, vaulting ribs and fragments of tracery ornament, these buildings are Grade II listed (461579 and 461580). The upstanding remains of Dieulacres Abbey are also a Grade II listed building (461582). A fish pond survives as a slight earthwork at SJ 9843 5802 and a stone coffin lid was found at SJ 9835 5798, both lie outside the area of this scheduling but indicate that further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity of the monument, but are not included because they have not been assessed.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: ST 83
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Pastscape: 77852, HER: DST5845 & NMR: SJ 95 NE1
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