Nocton Park Priory on Abbey Hill, 750m north east of Nocton Wood Houses
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1018898
Date first listed: 24-Mar-1977
Date of most recent amendment: 16-Apr-1999
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This copy shows the entry on 15-Dec-2018 at 15:49:02.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: North Kesteven (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: TF 07733 64784
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 remains of Nocton Park Priory survive well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. The association of these remains with those of a post- Dissolution house has resulted in the preservation of structural, artefactual and ecofactual deposits allowing insights into religious, domestic and economic activity on the site through both the medieval and post-medieval periods. The remains have been largely unaffected by later activity and, as a result of detailed historical research and archaeological survey, are quite well understood.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the inner precinct of
Nocton Park Priory, together with those of the house which succeeded it, a
house of Augustinian canons founded in the earlier 12th century. The priory,
dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, was established by the lord of the manor,
Robert Darcy, in or near a pre-existing deer park. Originally a small
foundation for nine canons, it declined in population during the 15th and 16th
centuries, and, when it was dissolved in 1536, only four canons and a prior
were resident. In 1537 the property was leased to the lord of the manor,
Thomas Wymbysshe, but in the following year was granted to Charles Brandon,
Duke of Suffolk. In 1569-70 it passed to Sir Henry Stanley, Lord Strange, who
constructed a secular residence from the monastic ruins. At the end of the
17th century the house was abandoned and the buildings were finally
dismantled; in 1727 they were depicted by William Stukeley as a series of
The monument is situated on the crest of a low hill overlooking the fenland to the north and east. In the eastern part of the monument is a series of substantial earthworks bounded on the north and east by a steep bank in which the remains of a stone wall are buried; this bank represents part of the boundary of the priory's inner precinct. The remainder of the precinct boundary extends as a buried feature into the western part of the monument, where earthworks have been lowered by ploughing. This boundary defined the area where the principal buildings of the monastery stood, including domestic, service and some agricultural buildings. At the middle of the eastern side of the precinct, near the highest part of the site, are the earth-covered foundations of a long rectangular building aligned approximately east-west; this building has been interpreted as the monastic church with peripheral chapels at its east end. Adjacent to the west end of this building is a raised area where further earthworks, surviving to a greater height, define a larger rectangular building thought to represent the remains of the house which was built on the site after the Dissolution. This structure forms the north eastern range of a group of buildings arranged on a courtyard plan which are thought to include accommodation and service buildings associated with the house. A linear bank marks a raised trackway running south westward from the north side of these buildings. Adjacent to the south east is another raised courtyard, also surrounded by building remains, representing a larger outer yard where stables, barns and other agricultural buildings were located. Further building remains are represented by earthworks in the northern part of the precinct, and by buried deposits in the western part. Although these structures were in use in the post-medieval period they are believed to overlie and partly incorporate the remains of earlier buildings associated with the priory. The monastic cloisters are thought to have been located adjacent to the south side of the church in an area which was subsequently levelled during the creation of a series of descending south-facing terraces, probably to serve as gardens for the post-Dissolution house.
All fences and gates are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 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: 22750
Legacy System: RSM
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