Ancient Monuments

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Austin Friars Chapel

A Scheduled Monument in Rye, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9518 / 50°57'6"N

Longitude: 0.7346 / 0°44'4"E

OS Eastings: 592168.394289

OS Northings: 120492.079094

OS Grid: TQ921204

Mapcode National: GBR RZ1.6JR

Mapcode Global: FRA D6FL.G0K

Entry Name: Austin Friars Chapel

Scheduled Date: 10 June 1952

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002296

English Heritage Legacy ID: ES 147

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Rye

Built-Up Area: Rye

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Rye

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The chapel of an Augustinian friary, 52m ENE of The Old Coach House.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 4 December 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes the remains of the chapel of an Augustinian friary dating from about 1380, now known as ‘The Monastery’. It is situated on a hill on the north-east side of Rye and would originally have been within the bounds of the medieval town walls. The building incorporating the chapel is now a two-storied pottery workshop. The chapel walls are constructed of stone rubble with buttresses at the south-west and north-west angles. In the south wall are three original 14th century pointed windows, which each contain three trefoil ogee-headed lights and leaf tracery above. Although these windows are now bricked in the tracery is still visible. The west wall incorporates a pointed window arch and in the east gable, which dates from the 16th century, is a square-headed window containing two elliptically-arched lights. The first floor is approached by an external stair. Parts of the fenestration are still visible in the interior of the building.

The Augustinian Friars were granted the land on Conduit Hill after their original site on the East Cliff was destroyed in about 1378. The buildings of the friary later fell into disrepair and the people of Rye assisted the friars with repairs between 1524 and 1531. It was dissolved at the reformation in 1538. The chapel building underwent alteration in the early 20th century. It is listed Grade II.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

From the time of St Augustine's mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597 to the reign of Henry VIII, monasticism formed an important facet of both religious and secular life in the British Isles. Settlements of religious communities, including monasteries, were built to house communities of monks, canons (priests), and sometimes lay-brothers, living a common life of religious observance under some form of systematic discipline. It is estimated from documentary evidence that over 700 monasteries were founded in England. These ranged in size from major communities with several hundred members to tiny establishments with a handful of brethren such was the case at the Augustinian Friary in Rye. Some 225 religious houses belonged to the order of St Augustine. The Augustinians were not monks in the strict sense, but rather communities of canons - or priests - living under the rule of St Augustine. In England they came to be known as ‘black canons’ because of their dark coloured robes and to distinguish them from the Cistercians who wore light clothing. From the 12th century onwards, they undertook much valuable work in the parishes, running almshouses, schools and hospitals as well as maintaining and preaching in parish churches.

The chapel on Conduit Hill is a significant surviving building of the Augustinian Friary in Rye. Chapels were designed for congregational worship and were generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provided accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which was the main domain of the priest and contained the principal altar. Chapels, like parish churches, have always been major features of the landscape. A significant number of surviving examples are identified as being nationally important. The importance of the chapel on Conduit Hill is enhanced through its association as an integral part of the Augustinian Friary. Despite later alteration it contains a significant proportion of rare surviving medieval fabric.

Source: Historic England


NMR TQ92SW105. PastScape 1322211. LBS 291942.

Source: Historic England

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