Dodford Priory moated site


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018278

Date first listed: 23-Feb-1998


Ordnance survey map of Dodford Priory moated site
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Worcestershire

District: Bromsgrove (District Authority)

Parish: Dodford with Grafton

National Grid Reference: SO 93302 72895


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. Some 225 of these religious houses belonged to the order of St Augustine. The Augustinians were not monks in the strict sense, but rather communities of canons - or priests - living under the rule of St Augustine. In England they came to be known as `black canons' because of their dark coloured robes and to distinguish them from the Cistercians who wore light clothing. From the 12th century onwards, they undertook much valuable work in the parishes, running almshouses, schools and hospitals as well as maintaining and preaching in parish churches. It was from the churches that they derived much of their revenue. The Augustinians made a major contribution to many facets of medieval life and all of their monasteries which exhibit significant surviving archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

The moated site at Dodford Priory preserves a discrete enclosed precinct of a small rural priory. It demonstrates the compact nature of such minor monastic sites, and the majority of structures needed to secure the self sufficiency of the cell are likely to survive. The earthworks at the site indicate that buried remains survive within the island, and the water-logged conditions of the moat, the fishponds and the leat will probably preserve environmental deposits. The site is also of importance in having been incorporated into a second monastic order and may demonstrate alterations in response to the requirements of a different order. The site will provide opportunities to examine the differing regimes, both agricultural and domestic, of manorial and monastic society during the later medieval period, as from 1500 and beyond the Reformation the property was leased out to private individuals.


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


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the large triangular moated site of Dodford Priory measuring approximately 240m by 180m, and orientated north-south. The monument is located within a steep, narrow valley, on gently rising ground at the head of the valley. The priory was founded in 1184 and fell within the confines of the Royal Forest of Feckenham. Dodford Priory was a small cell of Augustinian canons and was never wealthy. It was annexed by the Premonstratensian monastery of Halesowen in 1332. By 1500 only one canon remained serving the chapel and the estates were leased out. The priory was dissolved in 1536. The moat island is large, measuring approximately 200m by 165m. The main buildings of the priory were sited in the vicinity of the present house which is believed to contain the remains of the refectory. Some traces of earlier structures can be seen in the gardens around the existing house. The chapel is thought to have been on the south side of the court. The northern portion of the island has been used as an orchard and has an uneven surface with depressions indicating the survival of either building or garden remains. The surface of the island is lower than that of the surrounding land, except towards the north where the island slopes gently upward. The circuit of the moat is complete except along the northern angle, towards the road where it has been partly infilled and built over. The moat is water-logged and is 15m to 20m wide across the top and 2m to 5m deep being steeply cut through the underlying Keuper Marl. The moated site was supplied by a stream to the west which is deeply cut and is thought to have constituted the western arm of the moat. To the east of the buildings are the remains of two substantial fishponds, which survive as reinstated ponds orientated north east to south west. Each measures approximately 40m long, and they vary between 5m and 15m wide. Both are included in the scheduling. To the north of the ponds are the remains of a leat which entered the site from the western corner near the stream and may have fed the ponds. This is incorrectly marked as a moat on earlier Ordnance Survey maps. The modern house and all associated structures, all modern surfaces, modern garden features and furniture and all modern fencing are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

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: 30022

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bond, WL, From Hamlet to Parish, the story of Dodford, Worcestershire, (1972), 7 -15
Aston, M., Unpublished survey of Dodford Priory, 1970, SMR files
various smr officers, Unpublished notes of Dodford Priory, SMR files 1960's to 1990's.

End of official listing