Mattersey Priory Gilbertine monastery: monastic precinct.


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012495

Date first listed: 09-Oct-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Jun-1992


Ordnance survey map of Mattersey Priory Gilbertine monastery: monastic precinct.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Nottinghamshire

District: Bassetlaw (District Authority)

Parish: Mattersey

National Grid Reference: SK 70308 89563


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. The Gilbertine order, thought to have been the only order to originate in England, was initially established for men and women. The founder, St Gilbert of Sempringham, founded double houses from 1131 until his death in 1189. After this time the houses founded were mainly for canons. Of the total of 29 Gilbertine foundations, 16 were for men. The order originated in Lincolnshire and most of the houses were established in that county, although others were established throughout eastern England. Small numbers of Gilbertine canons sometimes served hospitals, and at Old Malton, Yorkshire, a training and retreat house was established. As a rare type of monastery, all examples retaining significant remains of medieval date are worthy of protection.

Only twenty-nine Gilbertine houses were founded and, of these, only sixteen were for canons alone, the remainder being double houses for both men and women. Mattersey Priory, therefore, with its standing remains and extensive buried deposits, is one of an important and rare class of monastic monuments.


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


Mattersey Priory is situated on the west bank of the River Idle east of Mattersey village. The monument includes the ruins of the Gilbertine priory of St Helen and the area of the outer precinct. The visible remains include part of the twelfth century church, three partly blocked arches of the frater (refectory), the south wall, the foundations of the fourteenth century kitchen, and, to the north of the church, a fifteenth century tower. Partial excavation of the site, carried out in 1914 by the then Ministry of Works, revealed the buried foundations of the east and south ranges of the cloister. The east range consisted of a single ground floor room with the dorter (sleeping quarters) above, and the south range, the undercroft below the frater. The kitchen lay at its south-west corner and the reredorter (latrine) ran east from the east range, at right-angles to its southern end. The foundations of the west range also survive beneath the present ground surface, and the remains of ancillary buildings such as barns, a bakehouse and an infirmary, will lie along with the remains of stock-pens and enclosures, within the area of the outer precinct and under the present farmbuildings and yards of Abbey Farm. The priory was founded in the late twelfth century for six canons of the Order of St Gilbert of Sempringham. Never prosperous, the priory suffered badly when the church was destroyed by fire in 1279 and never rebuilt. It was one of the first to be affected by the Dissolution of the Monasteries and was suppressed in 1538, when its estate was granted to the Neville family. The monument has been in state care since 1913 and the farmhouse is a Grade II Listed Building. There are a number of features to be excluded from the scheduling. These are English Heritage fittings such as notices, ticket office and grilles, all modern fencing and walling, the surfaces of paths, drives and yards, and the house and outbuildings of Abbey Farm. The ground beneath all these exclusions is, however, included.

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: 13272

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971), 174
Kowles, D, St Joseph, JKS , Monastic Sites from the Air, (1952), 248-9
'Archaeological Journal' in Archaeological Journal: Volume 87, , Vol. 87, (1931), 16
'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Transactions of the Thoroton Society: Volume 12, , Vol. 12, (1909), 2-5
DC 29-30, Em D14 Special Coll A, St Joseph, J K, Mattersey Priory,

End of official listing