Hurley Priory: A moated Benedictine priory and fishponds and the remains of Ladye Place Mansion


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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

Windsor and Maidenhead (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SU 82688 84074

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. 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.

Hurley Priory is an excellent example of a moated monastic complex. The site has a well documented history and limited early excavations have demonstrated good survival of archaeological deposits. There is a high probability that environmental evidence is present, particularly in the ditch fills, while the survival of organic remains is possible in the waterlogged conditions of the wet moat and fishponds. Such evidence can provide a clear indication of the wealth and economy of the community and details of the landscape in which they lived.


The monument includes all that is known to survive of Hurley Priory, a moated monastic complex on the south bank of the River Thames. Today all that is visible of the monument are the remains of a rectangular moat, fishponds and various buildings, though much more will survive as buried features. The moat is best preserved in the north where it survives as a steep sided, water- filled linear pond up to 10m wide. It can be traced along its eastern side as a series of partly infilled hollows, while the south and west sides of the enclosure are now no longer recognisable as earthwork features although Mill Lane and Hurley High Street are considered to follow the line of the ditch. In the north eastern corner of the island are two water-filled fishponds; the eastern one has dimensions of 38m north to south by 30m east to west, the western correspondingly 43m by 37m. Standing remains within the monument consist of the refectory, a part of the northern cloister range dating to c. 1300 AD, and the priory wall. To the south-east of the church are the remains of a brick built crypt. The site represents a Benedictine monastery founded as a cell of Westminster by Geoffery de Mandeville and dedicated to the memory of his first wife, Athelais. It remained in Benedictine hands until 1536 when the monastery was dissolved, the land then passing into secular ownership. Several families subsequently held Hurley until 1550 when John Lovelace had a house built, Ladye Place Mansion, in the area south of the church. The crypt is all that survives of this house following its demolition in 1837. Excluded from the scheduling are St Mary's Church (listed Grade II*), the refectory (listed Grade II*), the priory wall (listed Grade II), the gatehouse and archway (listed Grade II*), the cloisters (listed Grade II*) and all modern buildings, fences and metalled surfaces but the ground beneath all of these is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Howarth, M, The Monks of Hurley Priory, (1986)


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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