Wykeham Chapel: a moated monastic grange and retreat house


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Wykeham Chapel: a moated monastic grange and retreat house
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1019096 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 23-Jul-2019 at 01:50:49.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Holland (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TF 27600 26386

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.

The moated monastic grange at Wykeham has been identified as the remains of a monastic retreat house. Retreat houses were principally used for regular periods of rest and recuperation which were required under Archbishop Lanfranc's codification of the Benedictine Rule, a prominent feature of which was blood-letting (seyneys) which was thought to be beneficial to health. Apart from providing purpose-built accommodation for seyneys, retreat houses were also used by senior monastic officials as places where the monastic rule concerning diet, heating and conversation were relaxed. As a result, they have features in common with both monastic infirmaries, which were also used for seyneys, and secular manor houses of the period, although retreat houses also required a chapel large enough to allow the continued observance of the offices by those in residence. Confined to the Benedictine order, only some 80 to 100 retreat houses are thought to have existed, less than half of which are currently recorded as surviving archaeological sites.

The moated monastic grange, retreat house and chapel survive well as a series of standing, earthwork and buried remains. Its specific function as a monastic grange and retreat house, together with the unusual survival of the chapel, makes this a particularly rare example of its kind. The chapel, earthworks and buried remains will contain valuable information on the layout and use of the site and will contribute to our understanding of medieval monastic and rural life. The artificially raised ground will preserve evidence of land use prior to the construction of the site. In addition, waterlogging in the moat will preserve organic remains, such as timber, leather and seeds, which will give an insight into the domestic and economic activity on the site. The continued use of the site in the post-medieval period demonstrates its ongoing importance as a feature of the landscape.


The monument includes a medieval moated monastic grange, together with the remains of a retreat house and chapel at Wykeham. The grange was associated with Spalding Priory, which housed a Benedictine order and lay 5km to the south west. Originally a dependency of Crowland Abbey, the priory was re- founded under the abbey of St Nicholas at Angers in 1074 and gained independence from the abbey in 1397. By the mid-13th century the majority of the land at Weston was in its hands. At the beginning of the 14th century Prior Clement of Hatfield established a monastic grange at Wykeham where he built a house and the chapel of St Nicholas in 1311. The establishment at Wykeham served as a monastic retreat house, a place of rest and recuperation for the monks. Following the Dissolution the chapel became a free chapel, and in 1543 the estate passed to the Harington family. Between 1684 and 1787 it was in the hands of the Ravenscroft family, passing to the Everard family in 1834. The chapel was repaired during the 17th century but by the latter part of the 18th century, following the collapse of the roof, had fallen into disuse. The standing remains of the chapel, which is a Listed Building Grade I, and the adjoining graveyard lie at the centre of the moated grange and are included in the scheduling. The present house stands 20m to the south west of the chapel; constructed chiefly in red brick, the house dates from the late 17th century, with mid-18th century and 20th century additions, and is a Listed Building Grade II.

The unroofed chapel is built of limestone ashlar and measures approximately 13m by 6.5m. The chapel's nave and chancel are one and entered by a pointed doorway at the western end of the southern wall. The north and south walls each have three large pointed windows, the westernmost window on each wall being blocked by brick. The east wall has a large pointed window flanked internally by ornate niches; a large pointed window in the opposite, west, wall is blocked with brick. The blockings are believed to date from the 17th century at about the time when the chapel floor was raised. Externally, buttresses flank each of the large windows. There is a polygonal stair turret at the south west corner of the chapel. The stair turret is entered, at ground floor level, from inside the chapel by a pointed doorway, and the turret is lit by narrow vertical openings. On the western external wall is the outline of the roof and walls of a former building, including a blocked rectangular window and doorway, thought to have provided access at first floor level between the domestic accommodation and the chapel. In 1881 a number of skeletons and a lead coffin were uncovered when the chapel floor was relaid. A small enclosed rectangular graveyard, in use from the latter half of the 19th century, adjoins the eastern end of the chapel.

The moated island is rectangular in plan, measuring 270m by 140m, with the centre of the island, occupied by the chapel and present house, raised above the surrounding ground level, indicating the location of the earlier house. The house is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included. A pair of Listed Grade II limestone ashlar gatepiers, dating from about 1700, stand at the south western edge of the monument and are also excluded from the scheduling. Raised ground to the north west of the chapel is thought to represent further buried building remains, such as domestic and ancillary buildings associated with the monastic grange.

On the southern half of the island two raised linear earthworks, aligned north -south and measuring 25m to 30m in width are separated by a partly water-filled channel. These features are believed to represent the remains of medieval dylings, raised strips that were a means of draining the land for pastoral or arable use. Fourteenth century documentary references to Prior Clement's works record the `dyking and raising of the lands' at Wykeham. Linear depressions leading to the east and west from the northern end of the channel indicate that there was formerly a more extensive system of drainage. A shallow oval depression, thought to represent a pond, lies adjacent to the west side of the broad north-south channel, close to the channel's junction with the southern moat arm. A water-filled pond in the south eastern part of the monument is believed to be of recent origin.

The surrounding moat is partly water-filled and measures up to 10m in width. The moat is now crossed by two causeways on its western arm and by a narrow causeway on its northern arm. The northernmost causeway on the western arm is believed to indicate the location of an original access point to the island.

The ground within the graveyard, which is still in use for the interment of cremations, is excluded from the scheduling to a depth of 0.5m, although the ground beneath this is included. The house, the ashlar gatepiers, all fence posts, boundary walls, outbuildings, the fuel tanks to the north of the farm buildings, and the swimming pool are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Hallam, H E, Settlement and society, (1965)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire: Volume II, (1906)
Moore, E, 'Linconshire Notes & Queries' in Weston, Wykeham Chapel, , Vol. 16, (1920), 1-17
White, Mr , (1999)


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].