Croxton Abbey and associated remains


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011244

Date first listed: 07-Jul-1993


Ordnance survey map of Croxton Abbey and associated remains
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Leicestershire

District: Melton (District Authority)

Parish: Croxton Kerrial

National Grid Reference: SK 82073 27508, SK 82298 27419, SK 82346 27643


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 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.

The monument at Croxton retains an extensive and diverse range of features associated both with the abbey and with the post-Dissolution history of the site. The survival of below ground remains has been confirmed by excavation.


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


The monument at Croxton is situated 2km south-west of the village of Croxton Kerrial and extends for over 1km along a small valley. The site includes the remains of a Premonstratensian abbey with associated earthworks of closes, barns, eleven fishponds, eight dams, a watermill site, a moated site, the post-medieval earthworks of a former garden and the site of a dovecot. Most of the monument is included in one main area but the sites of the dovecot and the moated site are included in two separate, smaller, areas. The house was founded as a priory of Premonstratensian canons and was subsequently promoted to abbey status. The first buildings are said to have been completed by 1162. In 1326 the church, cloister and other buildings were destroyed by fire. Bishop Redman's visitation of 1500 mentions that the abbot had built and repaired the church and lady chapel. The buried remains of the conventual buildings are situated on low lying ground to the east of the fishpond complex. A ground plan of the conventual buildings was recovered by excavations in 1926 and although their exact location is not known, they are marked by irregular earthworks and grass-covered spoil heaps. The early church was aisleless and measured 48m x 10m. A presbytery was added in the 13th century and extended in the 15th century, at which time a south aisle was added to the church. The cloister, lying to the north of the church, was extended in the 13th century to cover an area measuring 27m x 22m. Other conventual buildings investigated in the 1926 excavation included the chapter house, kitchen, frater (dining hall) and dorter (dormitory). A range of buildings to the north of the main claustral ranges has been identified as the guesthouse. Situated on higher ground to the east of the claustral buildings is an earthwork complex comprising enclosures bounded by banks, which stand up to 1.5m high on the north-east side. Associated with the banks are the earthworks representing the sites of buildings, included those of two large barns, one of which measured 45m x 15m. To the north of this group of earthworks are two further building platforms and an associated trackway situated in a dry valley running east from the main valley. Taken together, these earthworks represent the agricultural and industrial parts of the abbey site. An extensive series of fishponds fill the valley bottom, each formed by damming the stream as it flows northwards through the site. There are also two groups of fishponds to the west of the main series along the course of the stream; one group sits on an artificial terrace adjacent to the main series of ponds whilst the other, further north, occupies a smaller tributary valley to the west. The water level in all of the ponds was controlled by dams, four of which still fulfil this purpose. The southernmost pond in the series was created by damming the main stream and measures about 200m x 50m, tapering at the southern end and is today heavily silted. The second pond in the series along the stream bed is partly silted and partly water-filled and measures 175m x 75m. The next pond to the north is also water-filled and measures 125m x 70m. To the west of this water-filled pond are the earthworks of three, smaller, dry fishponds arranged in series and covering an area in total about 150m x 50m. This group may represent the fish-breeding tanks. Returning to the main stream bed, to the north-east of these smaller ponds is a triangular shaped water-filled fishpond 100m long and 60m at its widest point. Between the three smaller ponds and the triangular pond is a large watermill, which has been extensively modified in recent times and is not included in the scheduling. To the west of the triangular shaped pond are the earthwork remains of two large ponds set end-to-end in a small tributary valley running west from the main valley. These may also have been used in fish breeding. The westernmost pond is defined by an earthwork dam approximately 100m west of a trackway which crosses the remains of a second dam. This formed the second pond and lies across the mouth of the tributary valley. This second dam is a major earthwork standing 2m high and has breaches at both ends and in the centre. The pond formed behind this dam measured 90m x 40m. Returning to the main series of ponds in the valley bottom, the two ponds to the north of the triangular shaped pond are dry. Both were formed by large dams crossing the valley floor which survive as earthworks up to 2m high, each with a breach in the centre. The water in the first would have covered an area approximately 150m x 60m, whilst the second would have covered an area approximately 280m x 60m. The northernmost of the two ponds is flanked on its eastern side by the earthwork remains of a large by-pass leat nearly 2m wide. At the northern end of this leat, at the eastern end of the northernmost dam, are the earthwork remains of a watermill which was fed by the leat before the water passed back into the stream via a tailrace. To the west of the main abbey complex, on the hilltop west of the trio of dry fishponds on the artificial terrace, is a circular moated site known as "Punch's Grave". This is thought to be contemporary with the abbey and is included in this scheduling within a separate area. The site is about 30m in diameter with an additional 5m wide bank on the eastern side. The ditch is about 1.5m-2m deep and surrounds an island 14m in diameter. It is possible that the site was used by the abbey as a rabbit warren. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the site of the abbey was granted to Thomas, Earl of Rutland who built a manor house, some of which survives as part of New Park House and is still lived in. Between 1710-20 the 2nd duke of Rutland built a second house, known as Old Park House, which is now derelict. On the western side of this house, overlooking the fishponds, are the earthwork remains of a contemporary formal garden covering an area of some 60m x 75m; the earthworks consist of banks and platforms up to 1.75m high. These remains lie within the main area. New Park House and Old Park House are both grade II listed buildings. To the south of the garden earthworks, and included in the third area, is the site of a dovecot, represented by a circular feature on a raised platform 15m in diameter. Excluded from the scheduling are New Park House and Old Park House, all the modern buildings south-east of New Park House, and fences, although the ground beneath all these features 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: 17109

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of North-West Leicestershire, (1987)
Clapham, A W, 'Archaeologia' in The Architecture of the Premonstratensians, , Vol. 73, (1924)
Herbert, A, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society' in Croxton Abbey, , Vol. 22, (1945)

End of official listing