St Lawrence's Chapel, manorial settlement remains and dovecote
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1017319
Date first listed: 27-Mar-1927
Date of most recent amendment: 18-Jul-2000
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: NZ 16423 16228
Reasons for Designation
Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more.
The Yorkshire Dales local region is broadly an extension of the lowlands into
the hill mass of the Pennines, but increasing environmental constraints have
ensured that each dale has developed particular and often wholly local
characteristics. The villages and hamlets on the valley side terraces of the
lower and middle dales appear to be of medieval foundation, while the
surrounding farmstead sites vary greatly in date, from early medieval to 19th
Medieval manorial settlements comprising small groups of houses with associated gardens, yards and paddocks, supported communities devoted primarily to agriculture, and acted as the foci for manorial administration. Although the sites of many of these settlements have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were abandoned at some time during the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. The reasons for desertion were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land-use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment, these settlements are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits, providing information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy, and on the structure and changing fortunes of manorial communities. A medieval chapel is a building, usually rectangular, containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate for Christian worship in the pre-Reformation period. Chapels were designed for congregational worship and were generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provided accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which was the main domain of the priest and contained the principal altar. Around 400 parochial chapels were built between the 12th and 17th centuries as subsidiary places of worship for the convenience of parishioners who lived at a distance from the main parish church. Other chapels were built as private places of worship by manorial lords and lie near or within manor houses, castles or other high status residences. Some chapels possessed burial grounds. Unlike parish churches, the majority of which remain in ecclesiastical use, chapels were often abandoned as their communities and supporting finances declined or disappeared. Many chantry chapels disappeared after the dissolution of their supporting communities in the 1540s. Chapels, like parish churches, have always been major features of the landscape. A significant number of surviving examples are identified as being nationally important. The sites of abandoned chapels, where positively identified, are particularly worthy of statutory protection as they were often left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the nature and date of their use up to their abandonment. Dovecotes are specialised structures designed for the breeding and keeping of doves as a source of food and as a symbol of high social status. Most surviving examples were built in the period between the 14th and 17th centuries, although both earlier and later examples are documented. They were generally freestanding structures, square or circular in plan and normally of brick or stone, with nesting boxes built into the internal wall. They were frequently sited at manor houses or monasteries. Whilst a relatively common monument class, most will be considered to be of national interest, although the majority will be listed rather than scheduled. They are also generally regarded as an important component of local distinctiveness and character. Despite the loss of significant fabric, including the roof, and the instability of that which does survive, St Lawrence's Chapel retains important evidence of its original form. The associated manorial settlement is well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. Taken together with the dovecote, which is a fine example of its type, this group of medieval monuments will add greatly to our understanding of medieval life and society, both secular and religious.
The monument includes the remains of a chapel, a manorial settlement and a
dovecote of medieval date, situated on a triangular shaped plateau above the
flood plain of the River Tees. The chapel and the dovecote are Listed Grade
II*. The adjacent medieval bridge is the subject of a separate scheduling.
The chapel of St Lawrence is situated on a mound standing up to 2m high. It is
visible as a rectangular building 19m by 5m within stone walls 1m wide. The
side walls stand to a maximum height of 3.25m and the east and west gables are
4.7m and 5.5m respectively. The western part of the chapel is of 12th century
date; an original doorway, now blocked, is retained in its south wall. In 1220
the chapel was extended eastwards and it remained in use as a single chambered
building until the 16th century, when it was divided into two parts and the
western half converted into a priest's house. The east gable of the chapel
contains three original lancet windows, now partially blocked, and has a low
buttress in the centre and others to roof height at each corner. The west
gable has a single lancet window, partially blocked in recent times, and a
similar arrangement of buttresses. The north wall has a lancet window at its
eastern end and a doorway of 13th century date; there is also a small window
in between. The south wall of the chapel has a series of six, now partially
blocked, lancet windows and a doorway of 12th century date partially obscured
by a later doorway of 13th century date. Internally, a 16th century cross wall
standing to a maximum of 2m high divides the interior into two separate
compartments; the lower parts of a fireplace are visible in its foundations.
Immediately to the north and east of the chapel there are the remains of a
manorial settlement thought to be the one referred to in a document as
`Brieforde,' where depopulation was reported in 1517. It is also mentioned in
Domesday Book and in the early 14th century. The settlement is visible as the
foundations of at least four rectangular buildings, a pond and associated
yards or enclosures; much of the settlement, including one of the rectangular
buildings, is contained within an enclosing wall visible as a scarp standing
to 1.5m high. Another of the buildings overlies the eastern side of the
enclosing wall, and at least two further buildings are situated outside the
enclosure to the east. The visible remains suggest that the settlement is of
more than one phase.
Within the enclosing wall, the first rectangular building is 28m long with
walls standing to 0.4m high. The pond is visible as an oval hollow between
0.4m and 2m deep. In the area between these buildings and the chapel there are
a series of low banks which divide the space into rectangular enclosures
interpreted as yards. A hollow way, 18m wide, leads from the eastern end of
the chapel northwards. The second rectangular building which has been
constructed over the eastern side of the enclosing wall is 28m long and stands
to a height of 0.3m. A rectangular earthwork divided into three compartments,
interpreted as a third building, is situated beyond the enclosing wall to the
north east. This building, which is 20m by 10m, has walls standing to a
maximum height of 0.7m. The fourth rectangular building is situated 80m south
east of the third and is 24m long with walls standing to a maximum height of
0.3m. Immediately north of the third rectangular building and situated upon
the eastern side of the enclosure wall, there is a circular, domed but
unroofed dovecote. It is one of a small, distinctive group of circular
dovecotes in the Tees Valley. The stone built dovecote, constructed largely of
roughly coursed rubble, is 6.3m in diameter and stands up to 5.5m high within
walls 1m thick. There is a doorway facing north west which is an enlargement
of an earlier window or hatch. Within the dovecote there are 13 tiers of stone
nest boxes containing up to 400 individual nesting sites.
The later stone enclosures attached to the south side of the chapel are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is
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: 32729
Legacy System: RSM
Durham SMR 1597,
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