The medieval college of St Gregory and St Martin at Wye
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1010349
Date first listed: 09-May-1995
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Ashford (District Authority)
Parish: Wye with Hinxhill
National Grid Reference: TR 05489 46849
Reasons for Designation
The term college is used to describe a variety of different types of
establishment whose communities of secular clergy shared a degree of common
life less strictly controlled than that within a monastic order. Although some
may date to as early as the tenth century, the majority of English colleges
were founded in the 14th or 15th centuries. Most were subsequently closed down
under the Chantries Act of 1547.
Colleges of the prebendal or portional type were set up as secular chapters,
both as an alternative to the structure of contemporary monastic houses and to
provide positions for clerics whose services the monastic establishment wished
to reward. Some barons followed suit by setting up colleges within their
castles, while others were founded by the Crown for the canons who served
royal free chapels. Foundations of this type were generally staffed by
prebends or portioners (priests taking their income from the tithes, or other
income deriving from a village or manor). After 1300, chantry colleges became
more common. These were establishments of priests, financed from a common
fund, whose prime concern was to offer masses for the souls of the patron and
the patron's family. They may also have housed bedesmen (deserving poor and
elderly) and provided an educational facility which in some cases eventually
came to dominate their other activities.
From historical sources it is known that approximately 300 separate colleges
existed during the early medieval and medieval period; of these, 167 were in
existence in 1509, made up of 71 prebendal or portional colleges, 64 chantry
colleges and 32 whose function was primarily academic.
In view of the importance of colleges in contributing to our understanding of
ecclesiastical history, and given the rarity of known surviving examples, all
identified colleges which retain surviving archaeological remains are
considered to be nationally important.
The old college buildings, as established by Kempe in 1447, have survived almost unchanged from the 15th century, owing to the condition placed on their sale to Walter Bucler in 1545 that a free school for the poor children of Wye should continue as before. The buildings of the original college foundation - the Old Latin School, the cloister quadrangle and the Wheel Room - have remained in use as educational establishments almost continuously since their foundation. The 15th century buildings have been well maintained, and various rebuilding schemes have allowed the buildings to be adapted for modern use, as well as to maintain their structural integrity. Features existing beneath the buildings will have remained virtually undisturbed from the mid-15th century onwards. Similarly, the areas of garden to the south and east of the cloister quadrangle are likely to have suffered little large scale disturbance compared with other areas of the college which have been extensively redeveloped, and will also therefore contain much archaeological information relating to the college. Although there were an estimated 300 colleges founded by c.1509, only about a quarter of this number remain upstanding. Wye is therefore a rare survival, preserving aspects of medieval architecture along with archaeological information relating to the 15th century and earlier.
The monument includes the remains of the medieval College of St Gregory and St
Martin at Wye, founded in 1447 and situated adjacent to what is now the High
Street. The college survives in the form of standing buildings and buried
remains. The standing buildings are Listed at Grades I, II and II*, and all
are excluded from the scheduling. The buried remains survive beneath the
college buildings and in areas of open space within the monument. These are
included in the scheduling.
The medieval college building is in the form of a cloister quadrangle where
pupils and masters lived and studied and lies to the east of the churchyard.
Outbuildings are known to have stood to the east and north of the quadrangle,
although these are no longer visible at ground level. The free grammar school
was held in the small building to the south of the main college. This was
known as the Old Latin School, its purpose being to teach the children of the
village Latin and grammar. The main entrance to the college was to the east of
the Latin School, guarded by a porter's lodge. The Old Latin School and the
porter's lodge have survived almost intact as part of the modern Wye
In February 1432, Cardinal John Kempe applied for, and obtained from Henry
VI, licence to found a college for secular priests at Wye. The foundation of
the college was, however, delayed by negotiations with the Abbot of Battle
Abbey from whom he wished to purchase land at Wye on which to build the
college. The foundation of the college, therefore, did not take place until
1447, with the college being given the same dedication as the parish church -
to St Gregory and St Martin. The number of pupils appears to have varied,
although the maximum is known to have been ten.
It is recorded that in c.1535 the gross income of the college was 125 pounds,
15 shillings and fourpence halfpenny. After the Dissolution, the college and
all its possessions, which included the manors of Perycourte and Surrenden as
well as the rectory and advowson of the vicarage of Broomhill, were
surrendered to the Crown Commissioners. This took place on January 19th 1545,
and they were subsequently sold to Walter Bucler, the secretary to Queen
Catherine Parr, for 200 pounds on condition that he should `at all times
provide and maintain a sufficient school master to teach gratis any children
of Wye who should present themselves to him'. However, by 1627 the original
conditions were not being met and the estate became vested in the Crown once
again, until Charles I granted the college and its possessions to Robert
In 1762, as part of Lady Joanna Thornhill's School, the college entered its
most prosperous period, with 40 boarders and over 100 day pupils. In 1889 it
was sold as a private school, and in 1892 Kent and Surrey Councils combined to
establish the South Eastern Agricultural College on the site. The modern
college buildings were constructed in 1893-5, 1901, 1903-6 and 1912-14,
although this programme of work was not completed until 1928. Various
architects were employed, including P B Chambers, T E Colcutt and S Hamp.
The 15th century Wheel Room was restored and extended early this century
and is now a college common room. The Latin School was partly refaced in red
brick, the first floor of the cloister quadrangle was rebuilt in brick, and
its timber pentice replaced in c.1740.
The Old Latin School and the college cloister quadrangle are both Listed
Grade I, while the Wheel Room is a Grade II* Listed Building, and the
surrounding modern college buildings are all Listed Grade II. Since all these
structures are in constant use for teaching and accommodation, they are all
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all the buildings is
included in the scheduling, as are all areas maintained as gardens. The
surfaces of all paths running through the gardens, the metal arches used in
the pergola and for other climbing plants in the southern garden, plant labels
used in the gardens, and any service trenches or their access points beneath
ground surface in the gardens or beneath the buildings are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath and around all these features is
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: 24356
Legacy System: RSM
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