St Osyth's Priory, Brewhouse and wall between Brewhouse and West Barn


Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1111496

Date first listed: 21-Feb-1950

Date of most recent amendment: 20-Mar-2014

Statutory Address: The Priory, St Osyth, Clacton-on-Sea, CO16 8NZ


Ordnance survey map of St Osyth's Priory, Brewhouse and wall between Brewhouse and West Barn
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Statutory Address: The Priory, St Osyth, Clacton-on-Sea, CO16 8NZ

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

County: Essex

District: Tendring (District Authority)

Parish: St. Osyth

National Grid Reference: TM1204415685


Brewhouse and section of wall to north. Brewhouse with C16 base, upper walls and roof C18, with C19 lean-to the north.

Reasons for Designation

The brewhouse and wall to the north are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: the brewhouse has special interest for the retention of C16 and C18 fabric and detail, and contains a range of features indicative of its early function; * Historic interest: it forms one of the service and agricultural structures that form part of the courtyard of the first Lord Darcy's remodelling of the priory and its monastic service ranges, and retains evidence of its early and evolving function over 400 years; * Materials: both structures contain materials typical of those used in the early post-monastic period; * Interior: the interior of the brewhouse retains detail associated with its later C19 use; * Group value: the structures have group value with the other designated buildings and structures on the site, the Scheduled Monument and the registered Park and Garden


The settlement now known as St Osyth is recorded as Chicc in the Domesday Book of 1086, and is said to be the location of a C7 convent founded by Acca, Bishop of Dunwich. Its first Abbess Osyth, daughter of the Mercian king Frithwald and wife to Sighere, the first Christian king of Essex is purported to have been brutally martyred at the hands of Danish marauders in 653. Her name was later commemorated by the renaming of the village as St Osyth, although it continued to be known also as Chich into the post-medieval period. The location of the convent is unknown although Nun’s Wood to the north of the Priory may be relevant. Within Nun’s Wood a possible moated site and a series of fish ponds may relate to pre- or early Priory occupation of the estate.

Archaeological finds of the C8 to C10 indicates a settlement of that date at or near to the present village. The Church of St Peter and St Paul is thought to be the site of St Peter’s Minister mentioned in a document of c.1050. The Domesday Book records that there were three Manors at Chicc in 1066.

The Priory was founded shortly after 1120 by Richard de Belmeis, Bishop of London, as a house for Augustinian canons from Holy Trinity, London. The Priory was dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, and St Osyth and became an abbey before 1161. It is most likely that a park was associated with the abbey, possibly from 1268 when a charter was granted to the abbey allowing some hunting rights. Of the monastic buildings, the earliest remaining work is the sub-vault of the Dorter range which is of the period of the foundation; the still existing portions of the walls bounding the Cloister on the east and west are possibly also of this date. The fragmentary upstanding remains of what was probably the Kitchen are of the early-C13; to the same period belong the remains of the early gatehouse. In c.1230–40 the Frater was rebuilt with the vaulted passage to the east of it; at the end of the C13 the vaults in the former west range were built. The Great Gatehouse and the ranges flanking it and projecting south from it were built in the late-C15; the eastern of these ranges incorporates the earlier gatehouse. In about 1527 extensive additions were made by Abbot Vyntoner who built the Abbot's Lodging, aligned east west on the north side of the court, with an adjoining range running north-south (known as the South Wing in 2012). These abbey buildings survive to varying degrees of intactness, the most prominent today being the gatehouse and the Abbot’s Lodging, both reflecting the abbey’s wealth in the late medieval period.

The Abbot and Canons took the Oath of Supremacy in 1534 and received pensions after the surrender in July 1539. Post-dissolution, the Priory was bought by Thomas, 1st Lord Darcy, Lord Chamberlain of Edward VI’s household in 1553. It was Darcy and his successors who, in the mid C16 and after, transformed the abbey into a substantial house. At this time the conventual church, which flanked the cloister to the south, was destroyed together with the major portion of the east and west ranges of the cloister quadrangle; the ends of the remaining portions of these ranges were faced with chequer-work, the Abbot's and Clock Towers were built and the upper part of the dorter range rebuilt to form a residence. In the early years of the Civil War, when it belonged to the 3rd Lord Darcy’s daughter, Countess Rivers, the Priory was sacked.

It remained in the ownership of the Countess Rivers's heirs until 1714, but during this period it was largely uninhabited and ruinous. It then passed by marriage to Frederic Nassau de Zuylestein, 3rd Earl of Rochford. In the 1720s he built a new house on the north side of the precinct and restored the gatehouse. His son added the surviving C18 range and laid out the park. The Nassau family remained in possession of the Priory until 1858, when it passed to Charles Brandreth, only to be sold to Mr (later Sir) John Johnson, a London corn merchant, in 1863. Brandreth demolished Lord Rochford’s house. Johnson began the restoration of the Abbot’s Lodging in the 1860s and went on to restore the south range and embellish the gardens and park.

The property passed through a number of owners in the C20. The house was used as a convalescent home from 1948 until the 1980s. Between 1954 and 1999 the Priory was the home of Somerset de Chair who converted the gatehouse to a residence. His extensive art collection was displayed in the C18 house.

The surviving buildings on the site range in date from the C12 to the C19, and are complimented by buried archaeological remains pertaining to the Priory. All of the buildings have a chequered history of alteration and change of use reflected in their fabric, and the fabric and form of the brewhouse clearly illustrates this. An estate map of 1762 and the John Wiggins Survey map of 1814 both show the building as a small projection to the west of the west range, and it remains represented in the same form on three editions of historic Ordnance Survey (OS) maps from 1874 to 1923. Its unchanging form and size on OS maps indicates that the lean-to structure to the north was added to the originally long narrow building in the early to mid-C19. The style of stonework that forms the base of the earlier building appears contemporary with the north wall of the barn and therefore probably belongs to the late-C16, while the brick superstructure and roof date to the C18; the brick arches in the west and south elevations are probably of the same date. The chronological relationship between the brewhouse and the wall that forms its east gable end is not clear.


Brewhouse and section of wall between brewhouse and West Barn. Brewhouse with C16 base; upper walls and roof C18, with C19 lean-to the north.

MATERIALS. Base of limestone and septaria with flint-galletted mortar and limestone quoins. Upper walls of red brick laid in English bond; north wall of lean-to weatherboarded; Pitched tile roof. Wall built of stone, septaria, tile and brick.

PLAN. The building is rectangular, divided in two lengthways, with the lean-to to the north.

EXTERIOR. The earlier, south structure is of two storeys, the south elevation with an entrance towards the centre with round stone arch with keystone and plank and batten door. The ground-floor stonework rises almost to the top of the door jambs (slightly higher at the east end of the elevation), and on either side of the door, within the brickwork, are two small windows. To the west of the entrance is a low, arched opening with stone quoins, brick arch and plank door. Towards the east end of the first floor is a full height opening, to the west of which is a small window. Set into the stonework at the base of the west elevation are a pair of bricked up openings with brick arches and stone quoins. Between the two is a stone inscribed 'SED 1898'.

A catslide roof extends from the ridge of the earlier structure down to the low weatherboarded north wall of the C19 lean-to. The gable end of the building is formed by a wall built of stone, septaria, tile and brick, much patched and repaired, which butts up against the south gable of the West Barn. Towards the north end of this wall is a small opening, blocked with brick, the west face with a chamfered limestone surround above a limestone band.

INTERIOR. The stone and septaria wall of the early structure can be seen inside the C19 lean-to. At the west end on this wall, a chamfered brick arch has been filled with brick. Opposite the arch, in the north-west corner, is a square brick structure with a small hearth and cast iron grate, containing a lidded copper. The roof of the earlier south half of the structure has coupled rafters and collars. The west end of the ground floor is separated from the rest by a rubble partition wall.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 120022

Legacy System: LBS


Books and journals
Bettley, J, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Essex, (2007)
Page, W, Round, JH, The Victoria History of the County of Essex: Volume II, (1907)
Robinson, M, The Geography of Augustinian Settlement in medieval England and Wales: Volumes 1 and 2. BAR British Series, (1980)
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , St Osyth and Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, (1922)
Robinson, DM, 'Monastic Research Bulletin no. 18' in The Augustinian Canons in England and Wales; Architecture, Archaeology and Liturgy 1100-1540., (2012)
Archaeological Solutions Ltd, The Tithe Barn and Brewhouse, St Osyth Priory, Essex, 2006,
Pete Smith, St Osyths Priory: Historic Buildings Report, 2011,
Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, Part 15 Essex,

End of official listing