Part of a Cistercian grange, north of New Romney High Street, also known as Romney Priory
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Shepway (District Authority)
- New Romney
- National Grid Reference:
- TR 06422 24856
Reasons for Designation
A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and
independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile
labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for
consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide
surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th
century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution.
This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon
imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers
(secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident
labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were
specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms,
bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and
industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the
wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands
immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange.
Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands.
On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the
parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular
farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the
size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the
buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to
be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was
without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed
is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of
monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small
percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of
identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the
evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to
medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological
survival are identified as nationally important.
The remains of the monastic grange at Romney have survived well since the 13th century when they were first built. The monument represents an unusual phase in English ecclesiastical history, which ended with the dissolution of the `alien' houses under Henry V. Below ground remains of the medieval period will have been preserved in the area to the west of the upstanding medieval features, since the entire garden area was brick-paved - probably in the 18th century - and has not been disturbed since.
The monument includes part of what survives upstanding of the so-called
Cistercian priory of Romney, which is now interpreted as a monastic grange,
and burial remains beneath the upstanding structure and in an open area to the
west. The upstanding remains are in the form of a small medieval building with
a medieval stone wall running northwards from it. The building itself is in
use as a workshop and is excluded from the scheduling; the wall is included.
The monument stands to the north of New Romney High Street, in the grounds of
an 18th century house called St John's Priory House.
The small medieval building is of stone rubble and fronts on to Ashford Road
abutting a red brick 18th century house which lies outside the monument. The
medieval structure is of two storeys with various modern internal fittings. A
wall of medieval stones runs northwards from the structure as far as a modern
red brick shop on the corner of Ashford Road and North Street. To the west of
the building and the wall is a large garden, divided in two by a wall built of
brick and medieval stone, running westwards from the north wall of the
medieval building. An archway surrounded by medieval stonework has been
preserved at the extreme east of the wall next to the house, and it is likely
that it is an original feature associated with the priory. The southern garden
contains a brick-lined tank and a hand-pump, probably both associated with the
18th century St John's Priory House. Below ground remains of the medieval
period will have been preserved in the area to the west of the upstanding
medieval features, since the entire garden area was brick-paved - probably in
the 18th century - and it has not been disturbed since.
During the medieval period, the Cistercian abbey of Pontigny enjoyed close
links with the Archbishops of Canterbury. In 1222, Archbishop Stephen Langton
granted 50 marks per annum to the abbey from `the church of Romney'. This
grant was confirmed by Christchurch, Canterbury and by Pope Honorius III in
the same year. In 1264 Archbishop Boniface granted the advowson of the church
of St Nicholas at Romney to the abbey of Pontigny, and Romney thus became a
cell of the abbey, although it is unlikely that there was ever a regular
monastic settlement in the town. It is thought more likely that the `priory'
was actually run as a grange. During the wars with France in the 14th and
15th centuries, the possessions of the abbey were taken into the king's
custody and let out to farm. The possessions of the foreigners were finally
confiscated in c.1414 by Henry V, and in 1439 Henry VI granted `the Priory of
Romney' to the College of All Souls, Oxford.
The medieval building and wall are Listed at Grade II*, as is the 18th
century house to the south. The medieval building is in use as an
upholsterer's workroom and is thus excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath it is included. The medieval wall and the gardens to the west
of the building are all included in the scheduling, as is the dividing wall
between the two gardens. The pump and tank are excluded, along with the garden
shed close to the shop, the steps leading up to the dividing wall and the
brick paved surface of the gardens, the black `post-box' inserted into the
outer face of the medieval wall along with any service trenches below ground
surface and their access points in the gardens; the ground beneath all these
features is, however, 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
District of Shepway - Borough of New Romney, (1973), 15
Fowler, R C, The Victoria History of the County of Kent: Priory of New Romney, (1926), 239
Pevsner, N, Newman, J, The Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald, (1980), 434-435
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