View along a wall next to a path with a grass verge
Eastern monastic precinct wall repaired © Historic England
Eastern monastic precinct wall repaired © Historic England

Rare Medieval Walls Repaired and Protected in Bedford

Repair work has been completed to two nationally significant medieval priory walls in Bedford, thanks to grant funding from Historic England.

One of the most ancient religious foundations in Bedfordshire

Newnham was an Augustinian priory founded by Simon de Beauchamp in 1166 and built after the accession of Henry II. The house stood in an enclosure of 35 acres bordered by a rampart, moat and the Great River Ouse.

The precinct walls are all that substantially remain of this important scheduled monument above ground. Archaeological investigations have located the below-ground remains of the church, cloister, cemetery, kitchen, workshops and dovecote.

A vulnerable piece of history

Work was urgently required to stabilise the eastern monastic precinct wall’s structure and reduce progressive decay. Parts of the northern monastic precinct wall had collapsed during Storm Doris in February 2017 and also required urgent consolidation and repair.

A skilled approach

Project management was provided by Historic England in partnership with the Bedford Borough Archeological team. Partner organisations included the Whitworth Partnership, Bedford Borough Council Parks and Open Spaces Department, Priory Country Park Ranger and a team of enthusiastic volunteers.

Bedford-based stonemasons Corinthian Stone were appointed to undertake the specialist repair work. A family business, they have been restoring and caring for the region’s most important historic buildings for many years and brought their expertise and skilled craftsmanship to this vital project.

Historic England is delighted to have grant funded this project to protect these rare and important medieval remains. The repair work has been carried out with meticulous care and skill, ensuring that local residents have a physical connection with their medieval ancestors for generations to come.

Tony Calladine, Regional Director for Historic England in the East of England