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Monument Name Beeleigh Abbey
SMR Number 7760
Summary The abbey of SS Mary and Nicholas was founded in c1180 by Robert Mantell for Premonstratensian canons removed here from Great Parndon.
Maldon, Beeleigh Abbey
Maldon, Beeleigh Abbey
Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon
Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon
Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon
Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon
Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon
Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon
Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon
Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon
Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon
Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon
Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon
Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon
Associated Media
None Available
Description The abbey of SS Mary and Nicholas was founded in c1180 by Robert Mantell for Premonstratensian canons removed here from Great Parndon. Parts of the E and S range of the cloister survive, now in use as a house. The surviving E range includes the Chapter House and dorter subvault with the dorter over. The passage and room over at the N end of the Frater survive in the S range. These structures are early-mid C13 in date with later windows inserted . The upper part of the Dorter was remodelled in the early C16. These structures are in stone (boulder clay or septaria and puddingstone with Reigate stone and Purbeck marble dressings) and the roofs are tiled. The other parts of the Abbey, including the church, were probably destroyed after the Dissolution, when a timber-framed addition was made at the S end of the E wing, incorporating part of a ruined building, probably the reredorter. The vaulted Chapter House has Purbeck marble columns and some original C13 windows and the original entrance, also inserted C14 windows (an original window was altered in late C14 or early C15). The Dorter subvault also has circular Purbeck marble columns, original doorways and traces of painting. Later features include C15 windows, a fireplace, seven C15 loose glass panels in the windows, and a C16 painting of a cock. The Dorter lay over subvault, passage and Chapter house, making it L-shaped in plan. The N end, over the Chapter House, has been rebuilt, in part with old material. A C13 doorway remains. Later features include C14, C15 and early C16 doorways; part of a late C15 or early C16 screen. The roof has double collar beams and trussed rafters with occasional king-posts on the lower collars, with carved braces forming four-centred arches. Only a fragment of the Frater remains, including the passage under its E end, with C13 entrances. There are late medieval and post medieval insertions and additions. The roof over the room above the passage is probably medieval, trussed-rafter type. At the S end of the Dorter is a timber-framed addition, probably post dissolution but incorporating part of the Reredorter. Some original features survive, including C13 windows. RCHM noted two coffins N of the chapter house and various architectural fragments in teh garden. Photo of site in RCHM. <1> Pevsner suggests that the C15 mantelpiece over the fireplace in the Dorter undercroft may be made up of fragments from a tomb. Otherwise, his description is similar to RCHM. <2> Originally the colony seems to have been the usual 13 canons, later increased to 15. The affiliation was transferred to Durford in C15. The Abbey was dissolved in 1536. It is now a private residence. <3> Other refs: <4> - <9> Site Assessment = "The house is an interesting fragment of monastic building, and the C13 details of the Chapter House and Dorter subvault are excellent examples of the period". <1> "The architectural and the picturesque interest of Beeleigh Abbey are equal, the one chiefly concerned with the interior, the other with the exterior". <2> Not scheduled. <3> Two magnetometer surveys were carried out in the grounds, magnetic anomolies indicative of archaeological features were detected in both areas. In a lawn area to the west of the Abbey a linear anomoly possibly representing a culvert or wall was found. In a meadow to the west, anomolies were difficult to interpret due to the magnetic interference from ground disturbance and dumping. However, anomolies characteristic of pits and ditches were detected along with a possible trackway and remains of a structure. <11> As a consequence of discovering the certainty of well preserved building foundations beneath the paddock area the Maldon Archaeological and Historical Group undertook a research excavation on an area of 450sq m. Building two proved to be a timber hall with a high status end wing and a domestic wing. Pottery dating gave a date of 15th century. A second timber building was discovered to the east and, in part, below building 2. Building 3 also consisted of a hall with a central hearth, pottery evidence suggests 13th or 14th century while archaeomagnetic dating of the hearth gives a firm date of between 1240-1260. On the evidence of vertical tiled hearths, at least two further buildings were discovered just north of building 2. The first of these, building 4, is thought to be a kitchen whilst beyond and below this an earlier hearth and floor has been found. Above this evidence points to the existence of a farrier's workshop. <12> A second series of excavations in the paddock area located to the west of the standing buildings was carried out by MAHG between Nov-Dec 2002. Trenches 1 to 4 were carried out in the area of the earlier geophysical survey, these revealed further buildings, one likely to be a 16th century dwelling possibly with 2 crosswings(Trench 2). A further building of unknown use was discovered in Trench 3 near a path and ditch feature. A medieval midden was uncovered in Trench 4. Trench 5 was uncovered in the garden area beyond the site of the Abbey church, graves were found. <13> A metre wide trench was dug against the Tudor wall. Two layers were recorded, the upper was a friable silt loam created by dumping of soil and waste, this sealed a seam of pure sand/gravel ballast with no signs of human intervention. The depression is a natural feature<15>.<14> A service trench was cut from the toilet block near to the Chapter House north to meet the Garden Wall. The section uncovered a substantial brick footing and a masonry feature corresponding with a wall scar in the existing Chapter House. A damaged skull and vertebrae were found indicating a grave. <16> <17> A substantial brick footing was uncovered along the west side of the cottage. <18> <19> Excavation within the Chapter House revealed significant disturbance in post medieval and modern times to the deposits beneath the modern concrete floor. An east-west oriented linear feature and a small slot were identified in the south end of the trench, possibly associated with the construction of the Chapter House or possibly a previous timber structure on the site. Excavation wthin the Parlour revealed one pit of unknown date. <20> An evaluation trench within the east side of the site of the abbey cloister was found to contain a 0.7m wide east-west robber trench with post medieval or modern backfill. Modern ground disturbance was found to have removed all earlier stratigraphy.<21> Excavations west of Beeleigh Abbey in 2003 uncovered further parts of a series of medieval buildings first exposed in 2001 and excavated in 2002.(see 46148) Two magnetometer surveys were carried out in the grounds of Beeleigh Abbey in 2001. Magnetic anomalies indicative of archaeological features were detected in both areas. In a lawn area to the west of the Abbey a linear anomaly possibly representing a culvert or wall was found. In a meadow to the west, anomalies were difficult to interpret due to the magnetic interference from ground disturbance and dumping. However, anomalies characteristic of pits and ditches were detected along with a possible trackway and remains of a structure <22> Listed Building Description: MALDON TL80NW ABBEY TURNING, Beeleigh 574-1/1/225 (East side (off)) 02/10/51 Beeleigh Abbey and attached wall (Formerly Listed as: Beeleigh Abbey) GV I Premonstratensian abbey, converted to house. Founded c1180 by Robert Mantell. C13-C16 with later alterations, areas of rebuilding and addition of c1912. MATERIALS: septaria, pudding-stone and rubble mix with areas of C16 red brick; ashlar and Purbeck marble dressings; timber-framed inserted partitions and C16 range with brick nogging; plain tiled roofs. PLAN: of the Abbey buildings, only the east range of the cloister and the stub of the south range survives. The east range is an L-plan block with the chapter house oriented east-west and the dorter running north-south, separated from the chapter house by a barrel-vaulted parlour or passage. Projecting to the south of the dorter are the remains of a range with a gable to the east which probably housed the passage to the reredorter, into which has been inserted a C17 staircase. Built into the angle between this range and the dorter is a 3-storey timber-framed range. Of the south range, or frater, only the site of the day stairs and slype survives, now used as the main entrance. EXTERIOR: 2-3 storeys throughout with a single-storey and attic addition of c1912 built into the south-east angle. Chapter House: Early C13, the upper floor, except on the south side, largely rebuilt. Four bays. Paired west entrances with hollow-chamfered pointed arches supported by a triple central shaft with waterholding bases and bell capitals; dogtooth jambs with nook-shafts; flanked by a pair of 2-light windows with quatrefoil plate tracery, central shaft with moulded capital and base. Eroded demi-angel corbel above. C19 square-headed window of 4 cinquefoil lights to 1st floor; timber casement to rendered gable. The north wall has a single lancet with cinquefoil head to the ground floor and three 2-light windows above, the outer two being reset medieval fabric. Wall shows scars interpreted as the springing of a former barrel-vaulted building adjoining to the north. East wall has eroded stone quoins, repaired in brick. Two square-headed windows of 2 cinquefoil lights to the ground floor of late C14, the northernmost restored; 2 similar C19 windows above. 4-light timber casement to gable south wall has restored late C14 two-light window to east and lancet to west; above are 2 lancets and a further 2-light window. Dorter range: 4 bays with parlour/passage to north. The west wall is concealed by the range added c1912, at which time the early C16 1st-floor windows corresponding with those on the east side were blocked. East wall has C20 window inserted into former blocked doorway of parlour/passage. To dorter undercroft three 3-light C15 Perpendicular windows with panel tracery, the northernmost renewed; a further blocked window to the south bay contains a C17 oak doorway. Off-set buttresses repaired in C16 brick. 1st floor has 5 early C16 brick square-headed mullioned windows, each of two arched lights. Reredorter passage range has a blocked Tudor-arched door with adjoining blocked lancet and a rectangular light. Further rectangular light to 1st floor and casement to rendered gable. Frater range: west wall has single light to ground floor, 1st floor rebuilt in brick with a C16 Tudor-arched doorway converted into a window. Twin diamond-set stacks. North wall has 2-light late C14 window to 1st floor. South wall has C13 pointed slype doorway now forming main entrance. Timber casement to east, and to 1st floor. Gabled dormer to attic. Timber-framed block: in the late C16 a 3-storey timber-framed wing was built onto the remains of the reredorter passage range, with a roof gabled to east and west. Originally jettied on two floors on the west side, the ground-floor front wall has since been brought forward. Close-studded wall with possibly original brick nogging displays evidence for former square projecting oriel windows, on brackets on 1st and 2nd floors. The 1st-floor jetty bressumer projects forward with crenellated decoration. The south flank has 2 full-height storey posts and exposed studwork in the front 2 bays. The centre bay reveals remnants of further square projecting windows on ground and 1st floors. INTERIORS: Chapter House divided down the centre by 3 octagonal Purbeck piers with bell capitals and moulded bases. Quadripartite vaults with finely-moulded ribs and large foliate bosses to alternate bays. Ribs spring from corbels on the outer walls, whose abaci run into a continuous string course. The damaged west door repeats the external detail. Inserted door to parlour/passage. Dorter range: C13 pointed door to parlour/passage. This apartment retains traces of a painted foliate scroll frieze to north and south walls and above the west door. The dorter undercroft is subdivided longitudinally by 3 Purbeck columns with bell capitals and moulded bases. Quadripartite vaults with chamfered ribs, springing from wall corbels with a variety of decorative treatments, including knotting, with spiral and foliate patterns. Traces of wall painting. Fireplace to west wall has double-chamfered segmental arch decorated with fleurons; carved encircled quatrefoils to the spandrels with shield, beast's head and mouchette motifs; above, a band of giant fleurons and demi-angels bearing musical instruments, all very worn; crenellated rail flanked by buttresses terminating in octagonal crenellated pinnacles; lined with medieval pamments. C17 and C18 cast iron firebacks. 2 doors in west wall: C13 pointed door to frater range with C17 door to north. Dorter to 1st floor now lined with bookshelves concealing west wall. Inserted stud partition to each end, that to the south supporting reused C15 screen with embattled rail. Wide-span roof of early-mid C16 date with 2 collars, the lower carrying crown posts with thin longitudinal braces. Curved ashlar pieces springing from inner wall plates forming, with similarly curved soulace pieces, the framing for a former plaster barrel ceiling. The remains of 5 crown posts can be seen, but the roof continues largely concealed to the south, where part of the barrel ceiling is still intact. Frater range: north wall has C13 slype doorway, now leading to kitchen. 1st-floor room entered by C16 timber Tudor-arched doorway with carved spandrels in square-headed surround, which was approached by a flight of external stairs prior to the c1912 addition. Roof of 7 cants with slightly curved ashlar and soulace pieces of C15 or earlier date. Timber-framed block: jowled posts and internal curved wall bracing with some reused timber. Roof of 3 bays, unrelated to bay divisions of frame, with A-frame trusses with high collars and substantial straight arch braces. A near central partition is partly of timber-framing and partly of brick and masonry with arched fireplace on 1st floor. All windows now have iron leaded-light casements, some with reused moulded timber mullions and some of C17 type with timber security bars. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: attached wall to south west: approx 2m high, red brick with blue diaper diamond pattern, in two lengths cranked in centre; chamfered plinth. HISTORY: the canons migrated c1180 to Beeleigh from Great Parndon, which is turn had been colonised from Newhouse, Lincs, the first house of the order in England. At the time of the Dissolution in 1536, when it was home to nine canons, it passed to John Gate of High Easter. He alienated it to William Marche of Calais in 1546, and it was in the possession of the Francke family by 1580. (RCHME: Essex: London: 1921-: 178-81; Victoria County History: Essex: 1907-: 172; Fowler R C: Beeleigh Abbey: 1924-; Morant P: History & Antiquities of the County Of Essex: 1793-: 336). Listing NGR: TL8400807721
Monument Type(s) KITCHEN (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
WORKSHOP (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
CHURCH (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
COFFIN (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
TOMB (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
ABBEY (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
ABBEY (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
BUILDING (Dated 1200AD to 1500AD)
BUILDING (Dated 1400AD to 1499AD)
BUILDING (Dated 1500AD to 1600AD)
Period 1066AD to 1539AD Medieval
Status Listed Building (EH)
Administration Area MALDON, MALDON, ESSEX
National Grid Reference Square: TL80NW
Ref: 840077

STONE COFFIN (Dated 1066AD To 1539AD)

STONE TOMB (Dated 1066AD To 1539AD)

Events Dendro Core Samples

Two magnetometer surveys in the grounds of Beeleigh Abbey

Research excavation by MAHG in paddock area of the grounds.

Second phase of excavations at Beeleigh Abbey 2nd Oct- 4th Nov 2002

Tudor Wall watching brief by HAMP March 2002

Small area excavation beside the east wall of Beeleigh Abbey Cottage

Service trench watching brief by HAMP March 2002

The Chapter House and Parlour.

Single trench within the abbey cloister

Photographs of the Pink Room, Beeleigh Abbey

Dendro survey Beeleigh Abbey

Sources <1> Desc Text : An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex - Volume 2 (RCHME) Vol 2, pp178-181 Dated : 1921

<10> Photograph : Beeleigh Excavation 2003 (Andrews, D) Dated : 2003

<11> Excavation report : Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon, Essex-Geophysical Survey Report FAU Report No.958 (Wardill, R) Dated : 2001

<12> Desc Text : Essex Heritage Conservation Record Summary sheeet (Clark, WJR) Dated : 2003

<13> Excavation report : Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon, Essex-Draft report of the second phase of excavations at Beeleigh Abbey, 2nd October-4th November 2002 (Clark, WJR) Dated : 2002

<14> Desc Text : Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon, Essex- Tudor Wall watching brief March 2002 (Crouch, BJ) Dated : 2002

<15> Desc Text : Essex sites and monuments record summary sheet (Crouch, BJ) Dated : 2002

<16> Desc Text : Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon, Essex- Service trench watching brief March 2002 (Crouch, BJ) Dated : 2002

<17> Desc Text : Essex sites and monuments record summary sheet (Crouch, BJ) Dated : 2002

<18> Desc Text : Excavations in Essex, 1980 (McLeod, DG and Eddy, MR) Dated : 1981

<19> Desc Text : Essex sites and monuments record summary sheet (Crouch, BJ) Dated : 2002

<2> Desc Text : The Buildings of England, Essex (Pevsner, N) pp69-70 Dated : 1954

<20> Desc Text : Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon, Essex: Archaeological excavation within the Chapter House and Parlour. (Ennis, T) Dated : 2003

<21> Desc Text : An archaeological evaluation at Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon, Essex. CAT Report 241 (Crossan, C) Dated : 2003

<22> Excavation report : Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon, Essex-Geophysical Survey Report FAU Report No.958 (Wardill, R) Dated : 2001

<23> Photograph : Photographs of the Pink Room, Beeleigh Abbey (David Andrews) Dated : Unknown

<24> Desc Text : Dendrochronological Analysis of Timbers from Beeleigh Abbey, near Maldon, Essex (Tyers I) Dated : 2002

<25> Photograph : Beeleigh Excavations Cill Wall, Parlour (Andrews, D) Dated : unknown

<26> Photograph : Beeleigh Excavation slides (Andrews, D) Dated : unknown

<27> Aerial Photo : 13-9 (unknown) Dated : 1985

<28> Desc Text : Essex Countryside (Essex Countryside) Vol 39, No410, Beeleigh's White Past by John Wade Dated : unknown

<3> Desc Text : SMR form unknown Dated : 1960 0nwards

<4> RECORD SHEET/FORM : OS cards (Ordnance Survey) TL80NW05, 1962 Dated : unknown

<5> Desc Text : Revised List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest: Maldon (Department of National Heritage) p1 Dated : 1996

<6> Desc Text : Essex (unknown) Vol 2, pp172-176 Dated : 1907

<7> Desc Text : Medieval Religious Houses (Knowles, D and Hadcock, RN) p184, 186 Dated : 1971

<8> Desc Text : Essex (unknown) p139 Dated : 1952

<9> Desc Text : Beeleigh Abbey, Essex (Fowler, RC and Chapman, AW) Dated : 1922