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Netley Abbey

A Scheduled Monument in Hound, Hampshire

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Latitude: 50.8786 / 50°52'43"N

Longitude: -1.3572 / 1°21'25"W

OS Eastings: 445322.382607

OS Northings: 108987.865826

OS Grid: SU453089

Mapcode National: GBR 883.ZMP

Mapcode Global: FRA 861S.92D

Entry Name: Netley Abbey

Scheduled Date: 13 January 1915

Last Amended: 3 July 2014

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1001960

English Heritage Legacy ID: HA 5

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Hound

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Hound St Edward the Confessor

Church of England Diocese: Winchester


Cistercian abbey, founded 1239 by Peter de Roches, Bishop of Winchester, adapted as a substantial manor house after the Dissolution by Sir William Paulet.

Source: Historic England


Cistercian abbey, founded 1239 by Peter de Roches, Bishop of Winchester, adapted as a substantial manor house after the Dissolution by Sir William Paulet.

Part of Netley Abbey precinct containing the church, aligned east-west, the outer walls of the nave, presbytery and S transept standing to roof height, the N transept and nave and presbytery arcades demolished, probably in the C16. Cloisters lie to the south of the nave, the E range abutting the S transept. The cloister arcades and refectory to the south of it were also demolished in the C16, a gateway built in the centre of the S range and an entrance pierced in the S wall of the church opening onto the C16 hall. To the E stands a separate abbot’s lodging. To the east of the main buildings resistivity survey suggests there are the remains of Tudor gardens or possibly medieval remains, perhaps of the infirmary. Traditionally the cemetery would have been laid out to the E of the church. There is no evidence of the precinct gateway or of a precinct wall. Beyond the scheduled area the site was protected by a bank and ditch on the top of the scarp to the east (part separately scheduled as HA 5A, NHLE 1005536).

Buildings are constructed of limestone rubble with ashlar dressings and enriched with Purbeck marble; C16 alterations are predominantly in brick.

PLAN: a three-bay aisled presbytery; north and south of the crossing, which probably supported a squat tower, are two-bay transepts, each with a pair of E chapels within an E aisle. An eight-bay aisled nave has a monumental west front with a central entrance flanked by an entrance to the N aisle and a skewed entrance to the S aisle. Apart from the S transept, the internal structure survives only in the moulded bases of the arcades and footings.

The presbytery and N side of the nave have offset buttresses, the E and W ends have full-height offset buttresses framing the entrance and E window; the earliest phases have continuous moulded external and internal cill bands.

PRESBYTERY: a three-bay aisled presbytery with a square east end, in the manner adopted by Cistercians in England, but with a centrally-placed E altar flanked by a single lateral altar to each side, rather than the usual five E altars with the main altar set forward.

E window, completed c1260 at the earliest, of four lights below a cusped circle with a richly moulded inner arch formerly supported on multiple Purbeck marble shafts. Single E lancets and paired lancets to N and S aisles have splayed chamfered arches, recessed behind a broad rear arch supported to each side on a single shaft, an arrangement adopted throughout the early phases of the church. Aisle responds surviving against the E wall are square in section with an attached shaft; on the N and S walls a single full-height shaft between the window bays originally supported quadripartite rib vaulting. There is a trefoil headed piscina and an aumbry in the S aisle and a similar aumbry in the N aisle; and a truncated stone newel stair adjacent to the SW pier. Adjacent to the E altar is a moulded base, presumed to have supported a sculpted figure.

CROSSING: survives in the moulded bases of the four quadripartite crossing piers, the eastern face of the W piers flat to accommodate the quire stalls. Between the E piers a step divided the presbytery from the quire. Three piers bear rare inscriptions, including the name, crown and title of the king, commemorating the foundation of the church. The NE base is inscribed H. DI. GRA. REX. ANGL. with a cross above a heart-shaped shield; the NW base has a similar cross above a crown and the SW base a pennon and staff ending in a cross above a shield.

TRANSEPTS: north and south of the crossing, two-bay transepts, the S transept standing to roof height, the N transept as footings. The S transept has a two-bay E aisle, arranged as two side chapels, with a trefoil-headed piscina in the S wall. The roof has quadripartite rib vaulting, with foliate bosses. Relieving arches on the W and S walls are pierced on the W side by the remains of a C16 door and window openings and on the S by a moulded doorway to the sacristy and at upper level by the entrance to the dorter from the night stair, adapted in the C16 when the stair was demolished.

Throughout, the church had a combined shallow triforium and clerestory that survives best in the S transept where windows are of three plain lancets, the middle one higher. At triforium level the internal S wall has a blind arcaded gallery with cusped quatrefoil heads beneath an encircled sexfoil, below remains of a three-light window in the gable. On the outer face is the hanging for a bell. The transept roof was rebuilt perhaps in the late C15 or C16, and the supporting shafts were given geometric capitals.

NAVE: predominantly built c1290-1320. The S aisle of the nave, completed before the N aisle, has deep internal arches between buttress-like piers between each bay. S aisle windows are of three lancets, the taller, central light trefoil-headed. Probably early C14 N aisle windows, built from E to W, are of three cusped hollow chamfered lancets. In the easternmost bay of the S wall the processional entrance from the cloisters has a multiple moulded arch supported on grouped, probably, Purbeck marble, shafts. Inserted in the fifth bay from the W, is a C16 doorway with a moulded stone south-facing arch and brick rear arch.

The west front, also completed in the early C14, is dominated by massive full-height offset buttresses that flank the central entrance. This has a simple moulded arch supported on grouped shafts and formerly had two doors separated by a central shaft. To the left and right are an entrance to the N aisle and a skewed entrance to the S aisle. The W window had cusped tracery, the aisles have narrow, cusped two-light windows.

E RANGE: the east claustral range, which survives to roof height, comprises from north to south: the library and sacristy, chapter house, parlour, day room and probably misericord (novices accommodation). On the upper floor the dorter (dormitory), connected to the S transept by night stairs in the NW angle, and later adapted as the long gallery.

The three-bay sacristy (strictly the sacristy in the eastern bays and library in the western bay) is lit by a two-light lancet E window and has a rib vaulted roof, the corbels reworked in the C16. There is no evidence of the partition which traditionally separated the library and sacristy. There are arched recesses in the S and N walls and a trefoil-headed piscina and an aumbry in the S wall. An altar base is set on a raised plinth into which medieval tiles have been set. There are similar tiles at the threshold of the inserted doorway connecting it with the chapter house. Any evidence of a book locker, typically next to the entrance to the library and sacristy within the cloister, was removed during C16 alterations.

Chapter house in 3 x 3 bays, the responds of the vaulted roof remaining, and lit by three plate tracery windows of two lights below sexfoils. Wide, multiple-moulded three-bay arched entrance from the cloister, originally flanked by windows, enriched with Purbeck marble shafts. The adjacent parlour, with arched entrances from the cloister and in the E wall, has a barrel vaulted roof.

Aisled, vaulted roofed 2-bay day room and 3-bay room, possibly a misericord. C14 windows inserted, but altered in the C16 when mullion and transom windows and a fireplace were inserted, the original fireplace removed and the E entrance blocked. The dorter above, later a long gallery, has blocked narrow rectangular window openings replaced in the C16 by mullion windows. Throughout the E range C19 graffiti record the names of visitors such as William Symons in 1852.

Attached to the S end of the E range and aligned south-west to north-east, was a buttery, and to the E of it possibly an infirmary in the undercroft and reredorter above. This was served by an open stone-lined conduit to the S of and below the undercroft and buttery, separated from them by an internal wall. The buttery was altered in the C16 when windows were inserted or altered. The adjoining vaulted undercroft is in four bays heated by a monumental moulded stone fireplace on the N wall, the hood supported on corbels with brackets for lamps to each side. It is lit by a two-light plate tracery window to the E and by lancets to the N, altered in the C16. A doorway and servery open onto the buttery, in the N wall is a recessed locker. There is no indication in the NE wall of external structures having been built against it.

To the west of the buttery, resistivity survey revealed a small rectangular structure, the possible site of a medieval kitchen butting against the SE corner of the former refectory.

S RANGE: in the centre of the S cloister range an inserted C16 square-headed moulded stone gateway replaced the demolished refectory, a building of 30m x 12m, which was aligned NS. To the E of the entrance the former warming room, to the W the abbey kitchen. The S elevation was predominantly rebuilt in brick and faced in stone in the C16, the kitchen retaining two post-dissolution moulded stone two-light mullion windows. The Nwall, enclosing the cloister, was however retained and on the N face of the warming room is the lavatorium, the E end disturbed by the insertion of a C16 doorway. The entrance passage is flanked to the W by a brick and stone wall with a pointed arched doorway and three-light window.

W RANGE: the W range, originally the lay brothers' quarters and dormitory above cellars, appears to have been built in the C14 and was probably ruinous by the time it was much altered in the C16. A C14 doorway at the SW corner of the range probably gave access to the dormitory above. On the inner, courtyard face is a row of corbels at first floor level. An entrance passage, for which the corbels for its roof or first floor remain, was adapted in the C16 and a porch, now surviving as footings, added to the W providing access to the court through the W range. A C16 doorway was inserted from the cloister court giving access to the N section. A pentice range, now marked by a bank, against the outer wall protected the lay brothers’ entrance to the church, set at a skew at the W end of the S aisle.

To the south of this is a low wall [D’] identified by the topographic survey (Barker et al 2005). To the south are further structures: two small chambers with upstanding walls in brick and stone [E’] and to the west of the kitchen a long building 20m x 17m aligned N-S [F’] and south of it a low wall [G’].

The cloister garth and site of the cloisters is turfed throughout, the position of the cloister walls confirmed by the resistivity survey. In the centre is a raised mound, the site of a C16 fountain head or cistern.

To the E of the sacristy and chapter house and detached from the main buildings, is a two-storey building, described as the abbot’s lodgings. It comprises a main chamber above a three bay rib-vaulted undercroft aligned NW-SE with two-storey wings to the E, and between the wings formerly a chimney stack. The undercroft was lit by lancet windows and by an additional inserted window on the W; the entrance is in the W wall of the S bay. Remains of a gabled pentice above it suggest that this was the entrance to the upper floor, reached by external stairs. The southernmost wing comprises a two-bay vaulted undercroft with a chamber, possibly chapel, above; there was a fireplace against the S wall. The lower, northern wing had a barrel vaulted ground floor lit by lancets to N and S, with a garderobe beyond it.

Within the church, the Tudor mansion comprised from W to E a large room 25m x 10m, a similar chamber divided in two, and a chamber occupying the crossing, with a chimney stack built against the W wall. To the E, within the presbytery, a 15m x 10m room, considered to be the chapel.

To the north of the church, the footings of a rectangular structure 7.6 m across [O], and a series of three C16 rooms [r31, r32, r33] measuring 10m x 15m, 17m x 12m and 8m x 10m. To the west of the W front is a similar structure indicated by a shallow turfed bank; further evidence of Tudor structures to the W of the W front entrance to the W claustral range and to the W of the refectory.

The area between the E cloister range and lodgings is laid out as a flat terrace c 40m x 50m enclosed by low brick retaining walls to a bank to the N, aligned on the sacristy and NW corner of the abbot’s lodging and a similar wall to the E, and dropping to a turf bank to the S aligned on the E end of the infirmary/reredorter range. The 2005 resistivity survey identified features, referenced here, which could relate to the Tudor gardens but might relate to the abbey infirmary since at other Cistercian sites the infirmary is placed to the SE of the main monastic buildings. Rectilinear features are arranged round an open area [r19] of over 40m x 20m. To the north and east, three rectilinear features [r20, r21, r22] each 15m x 10m. To the south, a larger feature [r23] aligned on the infirmary block. To the S of the abbot’s lodging, a small two-roomed structure [r24, r25]. Linear features to the N of the retaining wall [r28] may relate to garden walls or the boundary of the cemetery to the N which is also defined by NS aligned linear features [r29, r30] to the E.

To the SE on the lower terrace, the resistivity survey suggested the presence of structures while to the S of the cloisters and refectory there is none.

Excluded from the scheduling are: the custodian’s house at the S apex of the site; modern notice boards and signs; modern fences and fence posts; modern gates and gate posts; modern walkways, tarmacadam or gravel surfaces of modern paths or car parks; modern water pipes and electricity cables. However, the ground beneath all these features is included.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Netley Abbey, a Cistercian abbey, founded 1239 by Peter de Roches, Bishop of Winchester, and adapted as a substantial manor house after the Dissolution by Sir William Paulet, is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: one of the best surviving Cistercian abbeys in England, with standing remains that demonstrate the plan applied to English Cistercian sites, the progression of architectural style as building phases were completed, and including an exceptional range of vaulted claustral buildings;

* Archaeological potential: there is good archaeological potential for buried remains of structures and garden features associated with both the medieval site and Tudor mansion;

* Historic interest: a C13 Cistercian abbey endowed with royal funding, adapted as a principal mansion post-Dissolution for the influential William Paulet, and in the C18 and C19 a source of inspiration as a Romantic ruin;

* Documentation: C18 and C19 pictorial and literary records and C19 antiquarian exploration, also C21 geophysical survey all add to our understanding of this nationally important site;

* Associated features: aqueducts (separately scheduled NHLE 1008703, 1008704), which feed a series of fishponds, the site enclosed by a substantial bank and ditch (part scheduled NHLE 1005536).

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hamilton Thompson, A , Netley Abbey, Hampshire (Department of the Environment Guidebook), (1953, twelfth impression 1980 )
E Kell, , '' in Netley Abbey, with an Account of Recent Excavations and Discoveries, Collectanea Archaeologica of the British Archaeological Association vol ii, pt 1, pp 65-92 , (1863)
Hare, J, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society' in Netley Abbey: Monastery, Mansion and Ruin , (1993)
Hampshire Archaeology and Historic Buildings Record, accessed from
Hampshire Heritage Online , accessed from
Central Archaeology Service , Netley Abbey, SAM Hampshire 5: Observations made during the primary excavations of the collapsed conduit, CAS Project code 549, 16.03.1995,
D Barker, T Sly and K Strutt, Netley Abbey, Topographic and Geophysical Survey Report, December 2005, University of Southampton (2005) ,
EH Jones and HW Taunt, John Adams' Guide to Netley Abbey and the neighbourhood (1899) ,
English Heritage, Wall Painting Condition Audit : Netley Abbey, Hampshire, March 1996,
HW Taunt, Netley Abbey and round it , 1907,
J Coad, Netley Abbey: A Conservation Statement , December 2001,

Source: Historic England

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