Augustinian friary adjacent to the junction of Lower Galdeford and Weeping Cross Lane


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021354

Date first listed: 08-Mar-2004


Ordnance survey map of Augustinian friary adjacent to the junction of Lower Galdeford and Weeping Cross Lane
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Ludlow

National Grid Reference: SO 51643 74588


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

Reasons for Designation

A friary is an institution housing a community of friars. The friars (from the Latin "frater" meaning "brother") were a novel religious movement which began in Italy in the late 12th century and which advocated a "mendicant" life- style. Owning no property of their own, they lived by moving from community to community begging for the alms and gifts of benefactors as they went. Unlike the older monastic orders, who were dedicated to a continuous round of prayer within a single monastery, the friars main concerns were preaching, evangelism and learning as they moved from friary to friary. Friaries were established in England from the early 13th century onwards, the first houses being founded in Canterbury, London and Oxford during 1224. By the time of the dissolution of the religious orders in the 1530s approximately 189 friaries had been founded for a number of different groups of friars, each with their individual missions. The most important groups were the Franciscans (the Greyfriars), who eventually established some 60 houses, the Dominicans (the Blackfriars - represented by 50 houses), the Carmelites (the Whitefriars with 41 houses) and the Augustinians or Austin Friars who had a similar number. In addition to these large groups there were a number of smaller ones: the Crutched Friars (9 houses), the Friars of the Sack (17 houses), the Pied Friars (3 houses) and the Trinitarian Friars (5 houses). The sites chosen by or for friaries were usually within towns, often in the less valuable, marginal areas. Here the friars laid out groups of buildings with many components found on older monastic sites, though the restricted sites sometimes necessitated unconventional building plans. The buildings were centred on a church and a cloister and usually contained a refectory (dining hall), a chapter house and an infirmary (for the care of the sick). The buildings were set within a precinct defined by other properties or by its own purpose built wall, but the public were not totally excluded. The naves of the friary churches, in particular, were designed to accommodate large public gatherings assembled to hear the friars preach. Friaries made a great contribution to later medieval life, in the towns particularly, and their remains add greatly to our understanding of the close inter-relationship between social and religious aspects of life in the high Middle Ages. All examples which exhibit significant surviving archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

The Augustinian friary adjacent to the junction of Lower Galdeford and Weeping Cross Lane is a good example of this class of monument. Investigation of the claustral buildings in 1861, as well as archaeological excavations in 1993 and 2004, have demonstrated that the principal friary buildings survive well as buried features. It is clear from these investigations that the associated deposits, including floors and external surfaces, are also well-preserved. Artefacts and organic remains contained within these deposits will provide valuable insights into the daily lives of the brethren. The cemetery to the north of the church and burials within the church and the chapter house will also provide significant information about the living conditions, including the diet and health of the clergy, as well as evidence of funerary practices. Waterlogged deposits within the former adjacent stream are likely to contain well-preserved artefacts and organic remains associated with the friary.

The importance of the monument is further enhanced by documentary sources, including information about an early benefactor, the inventory produced at the time of the Dissolution and documents relating to the subsequent use of the land.


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


The monument includes the buried remains of an Augustinian friary, situated to the east of the medieval walled town of Ludlow, immediately south of Lower Galdeford, a principal routeway into the town.

The friary was established in the mid-13th century. A documentary source dated 1279 records Brian of Brampton, Lord of Kinlet, as an early benefactor, and in the 14th century financial assistance was probably provided by the Beauchamp family. In 1290 a pittance of four shillings was paid by Bishop Swinfield, which suggests that there were twelve friars resident here at that time. During the late 13th and 14th centuries the friars received sufficient financial support for the extension of their property and the enlargement of their buildings. For much of its existence little is known about the internal life of this religious house. Some evidence of its condition in the later Middle Ages comes from the records compiled at the time of the Dissolution in 1538 or shortly afterwards. In 1538 the community consisted of three brothers and a prior. In addition to the ecclesiastical, domestic and ancillary buildings, they held gardens, orchards and meadows, over 12 acres (4.85ha) in extent.

In 1539 the friary site and gardens were leased by the Crown to Richard Palmer and in 1547 were granted to Robert Townsend. In 1572 Townsend's widow sold the former friary buildings to the town corporation, with a licence to cart away all the stone over 21 years. In spite of this, considerable portions of the buildings, including part of the massive precinct wall and an arched gateway, were still standing until 1817 when they were pulled down. In 1861 the foundations of the church and the other claustral buildings (arranged around a rectangular cloister) were surveyed by a local architect, before being buried again in order to use the site as a cattle market.

The church, which lies on the northern side of the cloister, is a spacious building with the nave and northern aisle together measuring approximately 17m by 32m, and a choir, about 10m by 25m, separated by a hexagonal area which probably supported the steeple. At the north eastern corner of the choir is a square bell tower. The cloister measures approximately 21m by 33m. To the south of the church, on the eastern side of the cloister, is the chapter house (used for the regulation of religious duties and business, and as a burial place for the priors). Situated on the western, southern and eastern sides of the cloister are the remains of domestic and ancillary buildings. These include the dorter (the friar's dormitory), the reredorter (the latrine block), the frater (the friar's dining hall), a kitchen, a guest house and the prior's apartments. During the recording of the remains in 1861, plain and decorated architectural mouldings, painted floor tiles and various small personal items were found. Two burials in coffins were also discovered to the north of the church.

A small-scale archaeological excavation in 1993 to the north and west of the cloister found that the remains of the friary buildings and the associated deposits survive well, despite the building of the cattle market and the subsequent use of part of the site as a school. This investigation would appear to confirm the accuracy of the plan of the claustral buildings produced in 1861. Medieval deposits and structural remains were discovered at a minimum depth of 1.1m from the present ground surface. In 2004 limited excavation south of the cloister revealed well-preserved remains of two stone walls about 1.3m from the present day ground level.

The earliest large scale Ordnance Survey map of the area, published in 1875, shows the remains of two rectangular fishponds approximately 100m south of the claustral buildings. They were fed by a stream flowing from the north, running immediately to the east of the claustral buildings. These ponds have been infilled and partly built over, and are not included in the scheduling.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: all modern buildings and exterior surfaces, the fence and gate posts and concrete bollards, all modern signs, utility poles, flag poles and lamp posts; however, 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: 35876

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Chibnall, MM, The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire, (1973), 95-96
Wainwright, J, Lower Galdeford Garage, Smithfield Car Park, Ludlow, (2004)
Botfield, B, 'Archaeologia' in On the Discovery of the Remains of the Priory of Austin Friars, , Vol. 39 Part1, (1863), 173-88
Cocking, G, 'The Journal of the British Archaeological Association' in On the Remains of the Austin Friary at Ludlow, , Vol. 24, (1868), 51-56
Curley, T, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club' in Monastic Remains Discovered at Ludlow, (1877), 175-79
Hannaford, H R, 'Shropshire County Council Archaeological Unit Report' in The Augustinian Friary, Lower Galdeford, Ludlow, Shropshire, , Vol. 31, (1993)
Title: County Series map: Shropshire 78.8 Source Date: 1875 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Surveyed 1874

End of official listing