Leez Augustinian Priory, fishponds and Tudor mansion, Leez


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013148

Date first listed: 17-Jan-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Mar-1990


Ordnance survey map of Leez Augustinian Priory, fishponds and Tudor mansion, Leez
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Chelmsford (District Authority)

Parish: Great and Little Leighs

County: Essex

District: Uttlesford (District Authority)

Parish: Felsted

National Grid Reference: TL 69700 18667, TL 70127 18535


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

Reasons for Designation

Leez Priory was one of 11 Augustinian houses in Essex, the third richest of the order in the county, both when accounts are available in 1291 and at the dissolution in 1532, and it was throughout its life a large and important house. Because of its rural position and its later, post-dissolution use, it is one of only a few priories to survive relatively intact, with all the main elements of the monastic site preserved in the landscape - as standing remains including rare outer court buildings, archaeologically-exposed foundations, and as significant earthworks including very extensive and well preserved fishponds. The mansion built by Lord Rich is in addition one of the best examples of the wholesale conversion of a religious house to post-dissolution domestic use. The use of the church itself as the central element of the house is of particular note, such re-use being a very rare occurrence. Undisturbed remains of houses of this date and type, especially of such high status, are not common, and the remains of Rich's mansion constitute in themselves a monument of national importance.


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


The monument comprises the remains of the Augustinian Priory of Leighs or Leez, its extensive fishponds and also the remains of the post-dissolution mansion built on its site by Sir Richard Rich, first Chancellor of the Court of Augmentation. The monument is divided into two areas by a modern road. The priory was founded c.1200. It possessed a church with lady chapel, a cloister on the north side of the church, courts with ranges of monastic buildings, and an extensive and complex series of fishponds and leats. Landscaping and excavation of the monastic foundations have, in part, revealed the plan of the Priory, while the dissolution account of Leez is one of the most complete in existence. The visible remains of the church are largely of 13th century date. After its dissolution, the Priory site was acquired in 1536 by Sir Richard Rich, later titled Lord Rich of Leighs from 1546. Rich demolished parts of the Priory and built a brick mansion in its place. The new house incorporated the church and cloister into the house's inner court. It continued in occupation after Rich's time until the mid-18th century, and 17th-18th century culverts, a stone "conduit" (probably re-using a louvre of the great hall) on the site of the cloister and other garden features enhance the monastic plan. Much of the house was demolished after its purchase by St Guy's Hospital in 1735. All the standing buildings and structures on the site which are listed are excluded from this scheduling although the ground beneath them is included. These exclusions are as follows:- remains of the 16th century and later house's outer court, the inner and outer gatehouses, the garden walls, the `Fisherman's Hut' and the associated outer court buildings. Additionally the bridge at TL 696192 is excluded, although the land beneath it is 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: 12607

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Howard, M, The Early Tudor Country House: Architecture and Politics 1490-1550, (1987), 148-150
Page, W, Round, JH, The Victoria History of the County of Essex: Volume II, (1907), 155-57
Page, W, Round, JH, The Victoria History of the County of Essex: Volume II, (1907), 155-7
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (E), , Essex, (1921), 158-161
Chancellor, F, Sargeaunt, J, 'Trans Essex Archaeol Soc' in Lees Priory, , Vol. V, (1895), 44-52
Clapham, A W, 'Trans Essex Archaeol Soc' in The Augustinian Priory Of Little Leez And Mansion Of Leez Priory, , Vol. XIII,3, (1901), 198-216
Wood, J M, 'Journ British Archaeol Assoc' in Notices of Lees Priory with descript of its underground passages, , Vol. XLIII, (1887), 21-5

End of official listing