Cistercian abbey and mansion, with fishpond and mound at Garendon


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009171

Date first listed: 05-Feb-1993


Ordnance survey map of Cistercian abbey and mansion, with fishpond and mound at Garendon
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Leicestershire

District: Charnwood (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: SK 50171 19887, SK 50257 19800


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 site at Garendon retains proven below ground features of the only Cistercian house in Leicestershire, parts of which were later incorporated into a 17th century mansion.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument at Garendon is situated 2km west of Loughborough and includes the below ground remains of a Cistercian abbey and post medieval mansion, a fishpond and a prospect mound. The monument is divided into two areas.

The first area includes the abbey which was founded in 1133 as a daughter house of the Cistercian house of Waverley in Surrey. Following dissolution in 1536, a palladian mansion was built over the west part of the abbey in the 17th century, the cellars of which incorporated part of the abbey structure. The mansion was in turn demolished in 1964. Excavations in 1966-68 established the plans of the chapter house and dormitory of the abbey and located parts of the north and south transept chapels of the abbey church to the north. The abbey drain, later used by the 17th century mansion as part of the sewage system, lies on the south side of the abbey buildings and originally extended from a pond situated to the west carrying water and refuse from the abbey to an undergroud cess-pit to the east of the abbey. The western part of the drain has not been investigated, but the known length extends for 75m and is 1.6m high and 0.8m wide in maximum dimensions. From the excavation evidence, the location of the cellars of the mansion, and parallels with the plans of other Cistercian houses, the abbey complex is known to have covered an area measuring approximately 70 x 80m, but it is possible that the buildings extended beyond the area of the scheduling. The 17th century mansion is known to have measured approximately 100 x 40m.

The second area lies to the south east and contains an oval shaped prospect mound at its eastern end measuring 25 x 15m and 3m high with a shallow ditch on its south-eastern side. The mound formed a part of the formal garden laid out following the construction of the mansion in the 17th century. To the east of the mound is a fishpond, originally belonging to the abbey but adapted as a 17th century garden feature. The fishpond measures 140 x 12m at its widest point, narrowing to 4m wide at its eastern end. There are known to have been further fishponds in the area but they have been modified by later landscaping. Two features of the abbey can be seen today, the exposed remains of the chapter house and a section of the drain, the top of which is at the present ground level. A building, known as the shooting lodge, situated on the north side of the first area, is excluded from the the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 17099

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
McKinley, R A, The Victoria History of the County of Leicestershire , (1954)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire, (1804), 797
Williams, B C J, 'Bulletin of the Loughborough Archaeological Society' in Summary of the Excavations at Garendon Abbey, , Vol. 10, (1969), 17-26

End of official listing