Site of Warter Augustinian Priory


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.

East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 86978 50487

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 225 of these religious houses belonged to the order of St Augustine. The Augustinians were not monks in the strict sense, but rather communities of canons - or priests - living under the rule of St Augustine. In England they came to be known as `black canons' because of their dark coloured robes and to distinguish them from the Cistercians who wore light clothing. From the 12th century onwards, they undertook much valuable work in the parishes, running almshouses, schools and hospitals as well as maintaining and preaching in parish churches. It was from the churches that they derived much of their revenue. The Augustinians 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.

Although a small part of the site has been disturbed by the construction of the church and burials in the churchyard, the monument survives well with various of the major buildings within the precinct identifiable from the earthwork remains, including the claustral range north of the church. Limited excavations have confirmed the location of the priory church and the survival of below-ground archaeological remains. The fishponds will retain environmental and archaeological remains in the silts which have accumulated in them, and will contribute to an understanding of the wider economy which supported the monastic community.


The monument includes the remains of the Augustinian Priory of Saint James located in the village of Warter. Extensive earthworks are visible across almost the entire site. These include building platforms and foundations, some of which have been identified as remains of the church and the attached cloister and its buildings. On the north side of the site a linear earthwork may be an original boundary around the inner monastic precinct. A complex of water-management features including dry fishponds is also visible. The southern portion of the site includes the churchyard of the Grade II listed modern parish church of Saint James, which was built on the site of the priory church. The priory was founded in 1132 by Geoffrey FitzPain, on a site already occupied by a church served by canons. Initially the priory was a daughter house of Arrouaise but it had gained its independance by 1162. Warter Priory was suppressed in 1536, when it was valued at 144 pounds 7 shillings and 8 pence, and was granted to the Earl of Rutland. After the Dissolution the nave of the priory church continued in use as the parish church until 1864 when it was demolished and replaced by the present church. In 1899 William St John Hope carried out a short programme of excavations to the east of the present church, when the foundations of the priory church's tower, the north end of a transept, and what were believed to be foundations of chapter house and presbytery walls were located. The present church is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included. The small portion of the churchyard, to the west of the church, which is still in use for burials is not included in the scheduling.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Bulmer, T, History And Directory of the East Riding, (1892), 723
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971), 158
Lawton, G, Religious Houses of Yorkshire, (1853)
Midmer, R, English Medieval Monasteries 1066-1540, (1979)
Morris, J E, The East Riding of Yorkshire, (1932), 335-6
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire - York and the East Riding, (1972), 359
'Yorks Arch.J.' in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, , Vol. 31, (1934)
'Howdenshire Chronicles and Pocklington Weekly News' in Howdenshire Chronicles and Pocklington Weekly News, (1899)
Hope St John, W H, 'Transcriptions of the East Riding Antiquarian Society' in Excavations at Warter Priory, , Vol. 16-18, (1900)


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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