This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.

St Peter's Abbey

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: St Peter's Abbey

List entry Number: 1015693

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: West Dorset

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Abbotsbury

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 15-Oct-1924

Date of most recent amendment: 16-May-1997

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 22961

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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. Benedictine monasticism had its roots in the rule written about AD 530 by St Benedict of Nursia for his own abbey at Monte Cassino. Benedict had not intended to establish an order of monasteries and wider adoption of his rule came only gradually. The first real attempt to form a Benedictine order came only in 1216. The Benedictine monks, who wore dark robes, came to be known as `black monks'. These dark robes distinguished them from Cistercian monks who became known as `white monks' on account of their light coloured robes. Over 150 Benedictine monasteries were founded in England. As members of a highly successful order many Benedictine houses became extremely wealthy and influential. Their wealth can frequently be seen in the scale and flamboyance of their buildings. Benedictine monasteries made a major contribution to many facets of medieval life and all examples exhibiting significant surviving archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

Despite some redevelopment, St Peter's Abbey includes many well-preserved structures, such as the tithe barn (reputedly the largest in England), a dovecote, watermill and well-preserved earthworks representing fishponds and buried foundations. The boundaries of the monastic precinct are known from the course of surviving banks and walls and much of the internal area is relatively undisturbed. Part excavations over the years have confirmed the survival of well-preserved buried remains. There are many historical references to the Abbey. The site is known to represent one of the larger Benedictine houses in Dorset. Part of the site is accessible to the public.

History

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

Details

The monument includes those parts of the precinct of St Peter's Abbey which have not been seriously affected by subsequent development. It contains many contemporary features and is located just south of the present village. The precinct which defines the monument is roughly square in plan and covers an area of c.10ha. Its boundary is now marked by walling along Rope Walk and Chapel Lane to the west, by a similar wall to the east of the modern car park in the north eastern area, by boundary banks to the south and south east, and by the course of Rodden Row to the north. Access into the precinct was via the two gatehouses situated on its western side. The outer gatehouse (Listed Grade II*), of 14th century date, is situated to the west of the Abbey Church and enabled access from the north. This is now ruined, but includes the remains of an archway. The inner gatehouse (Listed Grade I), situated further south, regulated access into the western precinct. The structure dates from the 14th century and was converted into a house during the 17th century, when a wing was added to the west and the eastern archway was blocked. The north central precinct area contained the main monastic structures, including the Abbey Church and related buildings. The church was identified during part excavations in 1871, when fragments of wall foundations, tiled floors and stone coffins were found to the south of the parish church. To the north east, the structure of `Abbot's Walk' (Listed Grade II*), is likely to incorporate the remains of the Chapter House or Abbot's Lodgings. This building is 14th century in origin, with 17th century alterations. The adjacent `Abbey House' (Listed Grade II) dates from the 17th century, but is likely to include reused masonry from the Abbey. The cloister block is likely to have occupied the terrace south of the parish church, where a substantial eastern gable is the only upstanding structural survival. This gable (Listed Grade II*) dates to the late 14th century. A monastic mill, situated to the east of the main monastic structures, was identified following excavations in 1985. The structure, (Listed Grade I) and known as The Old Malthouse, was built during the 14th century. It had two water wheels served by natural spring water from the north, and a stone outlet culvert is visible to the south. Following the Dissolution, the building was partly converted: the western wing became a residence and the mill was reduced in capacity and was served by a single water wheel. The mill continued in use until the 18th century, when the building was converted into a malthouse and the western gable end rebuilt. The southern precinct area contained a variety of agricultural structures, including a granary, tithe barn and dovecote. After the Dissolution, these buildings continued in use as part of Abbey Farm and have, therefore, been well maintained. To the south is a large tithe barn (Listed Grade I) which dates from the 15th century. It has heavily buttressed walls, with maximum dimensions of 83m in length and 9.4m in width. Internally, it is divided into 23 bays, although the north eastern half is ruined following storm damage in the 17th century. To the east of the barn is a dovecote (Listed Grade II*). The building is rectangular in plan, aligned north east by south west, with maximum dimensions of 5m by 10m. Internally, it is divided into two and fitted with stone nesting boxes. To the north is a granary (Listed Grade II), thought to date from the 18th century but using earlier masonry. The western precinct contains a group of fishponds and associated drainage channels within the area known as Broad Garden. The fishponds have become infilled over the years, but are visible as slight earthworks with maximum dimensions of between 25m to 80m across and c.0.5m to 0.75m deep. The area, which lies between the main precinct and a field system on Chapel Hill, is also likely to have formed the Abbey gardens. St Peter's Abbey was a Benedictine monastery founded c.1026 by Orc, a chief minister of King Canute. The site may have belonged to Glastonbury Abbey in the tenth century and an early monastic settlement at the site is possible. Very little is known of the earliest remains, as extensive demolition occurred during the Norman period (around c.1070), when new buildings were constructed. The earliest remains now visible include late 12th century carved decoration and 13th and 14th century architectural features. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are the structures of the parish church (Listed Grade I), The Manor House (Listed Grade II*), Abbey House (Listed Grade II), Abbots Walk (Listed Grade II*), Abbey Dairy House (Listed Grade I), the adjacent modern house, the summer house and swimming pool situated to the south of Abbey Dairy House, all garden sheds, the car park attendant's hut, the buildings north of the tithe barn, all fence railings, posts and gates relating to the modern field and property boundaries, all notice boards, signs and posts and all metalled surfaces; The ground beneath all of these features, however, is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 7
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 4
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 1-2
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 7
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 7
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 6
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 6
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 6
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 3
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 1
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 6
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 6
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 7
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 3
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 5
Whitworth, A, Dorset Dovecotes, (1988), 8, 21
Whitworth, A, Dorset Dovecotes, (1988), 20
Whitworth, A, Dorset Dovecotes, (1988), 21
Graham, A H, 'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in The Old Malthouse, Abbotsbury, , Vol. Vol 107, (1985), 173
Graham, A H, 'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in The Old Malthouse, Abbotsbury, , Vol. Vol 107, (1985), 173
Graham, A H, 'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in The Old Malthouse, Abbotsbury, , Vol. Vol 107, (1985), 173
Keen, L, 'Archaeological Journal' in Abbotsbury Abbey, (1983), 22
Keen, L, 'Archaeological Journal' in Abbotsbury Abbey, (1983), 21-22
Keen, L, 'Archaeological Journal' in Abbotsbury Abbey, (1983), 21
Keen, L, 'Archaeological Journal' in Abbotsbury Abbey, (1983), 21
Keen, L, 'Archaeological Journal' in Abbotsbury Abbey, (1983), 21
Keen, L, 'Archaeological Journal' in Abbotsbury Abbey, (1983), 21
Keen, L, 'Archaeological Journal' in Abbotsbury Abbey, (1983), 21
Other
Buttressed as at St Catherine Chapel, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
c. 1400 date, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Destruction of Strangeways residence, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Detail fishponds, RCHME, National Monuments Record ,
Detail inner gatehouse, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Detail jambs and archway, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Detail of southern precinct structure, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Detail outer gatehouse, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Detail southern gable end, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Details of northern entrances, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Details of southern entrances, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Internal divisions of gatehouse, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Interpretation of 'Abbot's Walk', RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Listing Grade and description, Listing Details: West Dorset District,
Mention 1400 date, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention 17th century conversion, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention 17th century thatched roof, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention blocked archway, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention date of structure, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention demolition in 1790, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention division into 23 bays, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention doorway and s wall fragment, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention earlier fabric in fire place, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention eastern end unroofed, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention eastern precinct wall, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention extensive Norman demolition, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention fireplaces and buttresses, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention largest tithe barn in England, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention modern windows, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention name 'Broad Garden', RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention other fishponds,
Mention print of 1773, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention relatively well maintained, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention southern precinct boundary, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention western precinct wall, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
RCHME, National Monuments Record,
RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Rectangular plan of Abbot's Lodge, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Represents part of southern range, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Structure of inner gatehouse, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series Source Date: 1962 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Depiction of Abbotsbury Mill
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series Source Date: 1962 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Depiction of 'Nunnery Grove'
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series Source Date: 1962 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Depiction of 'The Swannery'
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series Source Date: 1964 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Mapped depiction of Abbotsbury Mill
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series Source Date: 1964 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Mapped depiction of gullies
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series Source Date: 1964 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Mapped depiction of mill pond
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series Source Date: 1964 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Mapped depiction of mill stream
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series Source Date: 1964 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Mapped depiction of pond
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series Source Date: 1964 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Mention name 'Broad Garden'

National Grid Reference: SY 57754 85093

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1015693 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 21-Nov-2017 at 12:55:02.

End of official listing