Monastic grange at Priory Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016814

Date first listed: 01-Jun-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Monastic grange at Priory Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Muggleswick

National Grid Reference: NZ 04432 50023


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

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 monument.


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


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.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


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

Legacy System number: 32718

Legacy System: RSM


Field Reconnaissance, Ryder, P F, Muggleswick, Ruins of the Medieval Manor, (1964)

End of official listing