Reasons for Designation
A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and
independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile
labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for
consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide
surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th
century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution.
This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon
imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers
(secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident
labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were
specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms,
bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and
industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the
wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands
immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange.
Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands.
On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the
parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular
farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the
size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the
buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to
be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was
without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed
is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of
monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small
percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of
identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the
evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to
medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological
survival are identified as nationally important.
The monastic grange at Priory Farm is reasonably well preserved despite some
structural instability in the standing fabric, and retains significant
archaeological deposits. As a securely dated and well documented medieval
building which retains many original features, it will contribute to our
knowledge and understanding of medieval rural life. The association of the
grange with the medieval priory at Durham enhances the importance of the
The monument includes parts of a monastic grange of 13th century date,
situated on the right bank of the Muggleswick Burn, a tributary of the River
Derwent. The standing remains of the monument are Listed Grade I. The grange
was built for the priors of Durham by Prior Hugh of Darlington, while he held
office between 1258 and 1272, on what is thought to have been the site of an
earlier grange. The grange lay within a park, which Prior Hugh was granted
permission to enclose in 1259. The buildings of the monastic grange remained
in use throughout the medieval period; in 1464 a document records that the
buildings consisted of a hall, chapel, grange and a dairy, which must have
been in poor condition at that time as an estimate for their repair is also
given. The same document records a large stock of oxen, cattle, calves, sheep,
pigs and lambs.
The visible remains of the grange above ground are two rectangular blocks
orientated east to west and joined at the south western corner of the smaller,
more easterly block. The latter block consists of the remains of a rectangular
building 15.1m long and 4.4m wide within a wall 1.7m to 1.8m thick; it is
thought that this building originally stood two or possibly three storeys
high. The eastern gable is intact and stands to its full height of 15.5m.
There is a rectangular buttress at each corner with corbels forming false
machicolation. At the centre of the gable near the top there is a window of
15th century date which was later blocked by the insertion of a flue to a 16th
century fireplace. The form of the window is thought to indicate that the
upper storey was used as a chapel. The south wall of the building stands to a
maximum height of 3m at its eastern end. Also at this end there is a narrow
window of lancet form and at the western end there is a rebate for a doorway
1.5m high. The west wall was uncovered by excavations in the late 19th century
and was found to be 1.8m thick, containing a central doorway. The north wall
stands to a maximum height of 2m but is on average 0.7m high and contains the
remains of two narrow windows.
The western block is a rectangular building, substantially longer than the
eastern, and divided by a cross partition wall. This building originally
contained a vaulted undercroft; a description of the building at the end of
the 19th century referred to the removal of several pillars from the site,
though to have formed the undercroft. The western gable of this building
stands up to 4m high. The sill of a large first floor window is visible. At
the present ground level the tops of two small windows with triangular shaped
lintels are visible; these are thought to have served to light the undercroft.
The western block is thought to have housed the main hall of the grange, above
vaulted undercrofts. The foundations of the remainder of this building, which
were uncovered by excavation in the late 19th century, are considered to
survive below ground level as buried features. The wider extent of the grange
and location of other buildings is not yet fully understood.
All gate posts, fences, modern walls, garden sheds, raised flower beds, the
telegraph pole, the corrugated metal barn and the stone farm buildings
situated within the area of the scheduling are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.