Leonard Stanley Priory


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018606

Date first listed: 24-Jan-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Jan-1999


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

County: Gloucestershire

District: Stroud (District Authority)

Parish: Leonard Stanley

National Grid Reference: SO 80193 03230


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. Benedictine monasticism had its roots in the rule written about AD 530 by St Benedict of Nursia for his own abbey at Monte Cassino. Benedict had not intended to establish an order of monasteries and wider adoption of his rule came only gradually. The first real attempt to form a Benedictine order came only in 1216. The Benedictine monks, who wore dark robes, came to be known as `black monks'. These dark robes distinguished them from Cistercian monks who became known as `white monks' on account of their light coloured robes. Over 150 Benedictine monasteries were founded in England. As members of a highly successful order many Benedictine houses became extremely wealthy and influential. Their wealth can frequently be seen in the scale and flamboyance of their buildings. Benedictine monasteries made a major contribution to many facets of medieval life and all examples exhibiting significant surviving archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

The remains of the Benedictine priory at Leonard Stanley contains the remains of a tenth or 11th century chapel which has survived to the present, despite medieval and post-medieval alterations, along with a 14th century tithe barn which also retains a number of original features. The priory would have played an integral role in the life of the town at Leonard Stanley from the time of its foundation until its dissolution in the mid-16th century. Leonard Stanley was the subject of an archaeological assessment by Gloucestershire County Council Archaeology Service in 1997. This provided information on the origins, development and plan of the town from its in the earlier medieval period to the present.


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


The monument includes an area of Leonard Stanley Priory, a Benedictine foundation, which lies immediately to the south and south west of the church of St Swithin and comprises a Saxon chapel, Listed Grade II*, a 14th century tithe barn, Listed Grade II, a pond and the below ground remains of the conventual buildings. The priory precinct would originally have been more extensive, but the evidence for this is not fully understood and this wider area is not included in the scheduling. The church of St Swithin was originally also part of the priory complex, but is still in use as a parish church and is also not included in the scheduling. All the conventual buildings which would have stood to the south of the church have been levelled, although a vault beneath the north end of Priory Farm, which is not included in the scheduling, is thought to have been part of the priory, and evidence for other claustral buildings is expected to survive below ground level. To the south west of the parish church is a single celled, ruined chapel of tenth or 11th century origin, which retains a blocked doorway with an Anglo-Saxon hood moulding. In the southern wall of the building is 11th century herringbone masonry, and where the chancel was enlarged during the 14th century, a two-light window of the same date with decorated tracery has survived. The roof of the chapel appears to have been altered during the 17th century and now has an asbestos sheet roof. To the west of the chapel is a pond which is thought to have been a fishpond associated with the medieval priory. To the south west of the chapel is the large tithe barn which retains a complete medieval gable end containing the remains of a 14th century window and a blocked doorway. The barn has a later porch extension on the eastern front, above which is a dovecote. Several lean-to buildings have been constructed on the east and south sides of the structure. The western side of the precinct, to the south of the Saxon chapel, contained the kitchen, which is known to have been a square stone building with a louvred roof and which was standing until 1834. Leonard Stanley Priory was founded as a cell of Austin canons between 1121 and 1131 by Roger de Berkeley, lord of the manor. In 1146 the house became a cell of Gloucester Abbey, and therefore a Benedictine foundation. The Saxon chapel was incorporated into the foundation, and until the completion of the church of St Swithin, was the main place of worship for both monks and villagers, after which it served as a guest and private chapel for the prior. The foundation was dissolved in 1538, after which the site became a farm, and the buildings were converted for use as farm buildings. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are concrete paths, the patio between the wings of Priory Farm, all dry-stone walls, wooden fences, farm gates, modern farm outbuildings and lean-to buildings against the two priory structures, all modern electric lighting and associated light fittings within the two structures and all modern guttering; the ground beneath all these features is, however, 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: 31928

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Herbert, NM, The Victoria History of the County of Gloucestershire: Leonard Stanley, (1972), 257-264
Herbert, NM, The Victoria History of the County of Gloucestershire: Leonard Stanley, (1972), 257-266
Herbert, NM, The Victoria History of the County of Gloucestershire: Leonard Stanley, (1972), 257-264
Verey, D, The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire: The Cotswolds, (1979), 298
Douthwaite, A, 'Gloucestershire Historic Towns Survey' in Leonard Stanley Archaeological Assessment, (1997), 2-3
Douthwaite, A, 'Gloucestershire Historic Towns Survey' in Leonard Stanley Archaeological Assessment, (1997), 2-3

End of official listing