Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1015917
Date first listed: 20-Oct-1977
Date of most recent amendment: 12-Jun-1997
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This copy shows the entry on 15-Dec-2018 at 17:59:34.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: East Hampshire (District Authority)
County: West Sussex
District: Chichester (District Authority)
National Park: SOUTH DOWNS
National Grid Reference: SU 77798 23416
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
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.
Despite some disturbance caused by the construction of modern buildings and agricultural operations, the Premonstratensian monastery at Durford Abbey Farm survives comparatively well in the form of standing architectural fragments, earthworks and below ground archaeological remains. Although they have been incorporated within a later farmhouse, its outbuildings and grounds, these remains illustrate not only the religious aspects of monastic life but also domestic and agricultural elements. The survival of the later barn with part of its water driven threshing apparatus represents the rare survival of an unusual form of 19th century agricultural machinery.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the remains of a Premonstratensian monastery and a later
threshing barn, along with its associated water wheel and water-powered drive
shafts, situated on the northern bank of the River Rother c.3km east of
Petersfield. Some of the monastic buildings survive as ruined structures and
fragments incorporated within a later farmhouse and outbuildings. Elsewhere,
the abbey survives in the form of earthworks and below ground archaeological
remains. Historical records suggest that the monastery, dedicated to the
Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint John the Baptist, was founded by Henry Husey in
1161. A series of misfortunes during the 14th and early 15th centuries,
including two serious robberies and a fire in 1417, after the church tower was
struck by lightning, contributed towards its subsequent decline. The abbey was
dissolved in 1534, after which time it passed into secular ownership, and in
1784 the then owner, Lord Stawell, carried out a substantial programme of
alteration and rebuilding on the site.
In common with most religious houses, the main buildings are ranged around a
square, inner cloister yard. The frater, or refectory, fronted the southern
side of the cloister yard and the surviving fragments of its undercroft, or
below ground storage room, are represented by in situ masonry, including the
apexes of three arches, incorporated within the lower courses of the southern
and western walls of a later stable block, Listed Grade II. Around 16m to
the south west of the stable block is the base of a round column, also
interpreted as an in situ fragment of the original southern range. Surviving
elements of the western range, including some in situ medieval masonry, form
part of the fabric of the later farmhouse, which mainly dates to the 1784
rebuilding and is also Listed Grade II. Further fragments of medieval
masonry have been reused in the later garden walls. However, all the above
ground elements of the farmhouse and modern walls are excluded from the
scheduling. The other main buildings which were ranged around the inner
cloister, including the monastic church to the north and further accommodation
and service blocks, survive in the form of buried remains beneath the later
outbuildings and grounds of Durford Abbey Farm.
Lying to the north and south west of the main cloister are earthworks
representing a group of associated fishponds, along with traces of the water
management system which regulated them. A roughly east-west aligned, linear
ditch running eastwards from the northerly fish stews has been interpreted as
part of the northern boundary of the monastic precinct.
The later, timber-built threshing barn lies on the eastern side of the earlier
monastic cloister yard. The large rectangular, weather-boarded barn, which is
Listed Grade II, has been dated to c.1600. It is constructed on stone
footings and has a hipped, clay-tiled roof of braced, queen-post construction.
The wagon entrance is centrally placed on the western side of the building and
is headed by a gabled projection. Fixed to one of the main beams within the
barn is a series of drive shafts originally attached to threshing machinery,
although this no longer survives. The drive shafts, which date to the 19th
century, were powered, via an unusual culverted, connecting underground shaft,
by an undershot iron water wheel situated alongside a leat fed by the River
Rother c.40m to the SSE.
The farmhouse, all post-medieval and modern barns and outbuildings, all modern
garden structures and ornaments, post-medieval and modern walls, fences and
gates and the modern surfaces of all roads, tracks, paths, terraces and
hardstanding areas are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath all these features is included. However, the scheduling does include
the threshing barn and its machinery, and the in situ medieval parts of the
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: 29280
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Knowles, , Haddock, , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1953), 188
Aldsworth, FG, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Durford Abbey, (1979), 250-1
Aldsworth, FG, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Durford Abbey, (1979), 250-51
Adam, N & Hearne, C, Arch Watching Brief of The Old Stables, Durford Abbey Farm, 1992,
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