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.
Salmestone monastic grange survives well, retaining standing buildings of high
architectural quality. Part excavation has confirmed that the monument also
contains important archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the
original form, use and development of the grange. The monument is one of the
best surviving examples of a group of contemporary Benedictine monastic
granges which cluster on the Isle of Thanet, illustrating the control
exercised over this part of Kent by St Augustine's Abbey at Canterbury during
the medieval period.
The monument includes a Benedictine monastic grange situated on the southern
edge of modern Margate, around 1.5km inland from the north Thanet coast. The
grange survives in the form of standing buildings and associated below ground
remains. Historical records suggest that it was founded by the monks of St
Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury during the 12th century. The grange operated as
the administrative centre for part of their large, mainly arable, estate then
covering most of the Isle of Thanet, and as a place of occasional quiet
retreat for the monks.
Lying towards the centre of the monument, the standing buildings form an
irregular group and include a mainly north east-south west aligned, gabled
domestic range and a small, detached, east-west aligned chapel to the west.
The domestic range is on two storeys and is faced with rubble, ragstone and
flint, with ashlar dressings. Dated by its architectural features mainly to
the 13th and early 14th centuries, the range incorporates the original
refectory hall, an undercroft with ribbed vaulting, the kitchen and a
dormitory wing projecting to the north west. There is also some evidence for
earlier, timber-framed walls encased within the later masonry. The range has
undergone several phases of alteration and repair, and its north eastern end
was converted into a secular farmhouse during the 17th century. By the early
20th century the south western end of the building had fallen into ruin.
Surviving in situ medieval features include some original windows and
The chapel was consecrated in 1326 and may have replaced an earlier, more
temporary building. It is mainly faced with knapped flint, with limestone
ashlar dressings, topped by a clay tiled, crown post roof. There has been some
modern restoration. The modern stained glass windows were completed in 1952.
The standing medieval buildings, Listed Grade II*, are in use as a dwelling
and working chapel and are therefore excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath is included.
Investigations carried out in 1979 revealed evidence for possibly 12th century
wall foundations beneath the ruined south western end of the domestic range.
Wall footings representing later, now demolished post-medieval buildings were
also found in the area immediately north of the main range. Further buried
traces of buildings and associated features will survive in the areas between
and around the standing buildings. Running within the north eastern edge of
the monument is a line of earthworks shown by the 1979 investigations to
represent the footings of a row of post-medieval barns and outbuildings. The
lower flint courses of a ruined rectangular enclosure situated in the north
western corner of the monument are thought to represent a post-medieval barn
or animal pound.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Salmestone Grange passed into the
ownership of the Crown. Between 1559-1886 it became part of the possessions of
the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Catherdral, before being sold into private
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the Grade II*
Listed private dwelling and chapel, all associated outbuildings, modern garden
features, structures and fences, and the modern surfaces of all paths, tracks,
paving and hardstanding; the ground beneath all these features is, however,
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.