Titchfield Abbey and fishponds


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Fareham (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
SU 54055 06754

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 Premonstratensian order, or "White Canons", were not monks in the strict sense but rather communities of priests living together under a rule. The first Premonstratensian establishments were double houses (for men and women), but later they founded some 45 houses for men in England. The Premonstratensian order modelled itself on the Cistercian values of austerity and seclusion and founded all its monasteries in rural locations.

Titchfield Abbey, quietly situated in the valley of the River Meon, is a fine example of a Premonstratensian monastery. The surviving structures provide a good indication of the scale and importance of the monastic buildings while the associated fishponds provide evidence for both water management and for the economic importance of fish to both monastic and later communities. The surviving elements of the 16th century mansion are an example of the secular use of a religious complex in the years following the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Small scale excavations carried out in the early 20th century have clarified the layout of the focal monastic buildings. More recent excavations have shown the fishponds to have been constructed in the 13th century and to have been maintained in use after the Dissolution of the abbey in the 16th century. The main components of the monument are maintained in Guardianship and are open to the public.


The monument, which lies close to the River Meon and to the north of the village of Titchfield, includes remains of the medieval monastery of St Mary and St John the Evangelist, converted in the 16th century into a mansion. Also included are the remains of ancillary buildings which lie to the west of the cloister and four medieval fishponds situated to its north west. The upstanding remains of the abbey include the cloister, used in the 16th century as the courtyard of the mansion, and the nave of the church which became its gatehouse. The four towers of the gatehouse, which flank and rise above the walls of the nave, form the most visually impressive element of the ruined structure. The position of the frater, chapter house, library and the quire of the church are also known from archaeological investigations carried out by Sir William St John Hope in the early 20th century and are largely enclosed within a boundary wall of 16th century date. Beyond this to the west the north gable and west wall of a substantial stone building, probably of 16th century date, lie within an area which shows evidence of further structures. To the north west of the main complex of abbey buildings is a line of four (originally five) medieval fishponds, lying in a natural hollow running down towards the River Meon. Excavations carried out by C K Currie in advance of restoration works demonstrated that the construction of the ponds was started shortly after the foundation of the abbey in the 13th century and that they all continued in use after the Dissolution in the 16th century. Drains leading to the abbey and a pondside building, all of 13th century date were also discovered east of the dam of the lower pond. A further fishpond to the north of this line has been considerably altered during the 20th century and is not included within the scheduling. A tithe barn of pre-Dissolution date and associated with the monastery, lies 300m south west of the cloisters. This is Listed Grade I and is the subject of a separate scheduling. The Abbey of St Mary and St John the Evangelist was founded in 1232 by Peter de Roches, Bishop of Winchester, for Premonstratensian canons. The history of the abbey was uneventful and at the suppression of the monasteries in 1537 the monastic estate passed to Thomas Wriothesley. By 1542 he had converted the monastic buildings into the residence known as `Place House' which survived little altered until the greater part of it was demolished in 1781. In the early 20th century, excavations carried out initially by Sir William St John Hope helped to clarify the layout of the focal monastic buildings. Part of the monument is in the care of the Secretary of State. All paths, tracks, fence posts, notices, sheds, shed bases, areas of hard standing, fishing platforms and structures abutting the north side of the 16th century boundary wall are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Currie, C K, Arch obs made during SMC work at Titchfield Abbey, 1987 and 89-91
Currie, C K, Arch obs made during SMC works at Titchfield Abbey, 1987 and 89-91
Currie, C K, Arch obs made during SMC work at Titchfield Abbey 1987 and 1989-91
Graham, R, Rigold, S E, Titchfield Abbey, (1985)
Currie, C K, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Titchfield Abbey, , Vol. Vol 30, (1986), 147-148
Currie, C K, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Titchfield Abbey, Carron Row fishponds, , Vol. Vol 29, (1985), 182-183
Hope St John, W H, 'The Archaeological Journal' in The making of Place House at Titchfield, near S'oton in 1538, , Vol. Vol 63, (1906), 230-243
Hope St John, W H, 'The Archaeological Journal' in The making of Place House at Titchfield, near S'oton in 1538, , Vol. Vol 63, (1906), 230-243
Hope St John, W H, 'The Archaeological Journal' in The making of Place House at Titchfield, near S'oton in 1538, , Vol. Vol 63, (1906), 230-243


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

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