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Cistercian abbey and mansion, with fishpond and mound at Garendon

A Scheduled Monument in Loughborough Garendon, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.7739 / 52°46'26"N

Longitude: -1.2574 / 1°15'26"W

OS Eastings: 450190.904185

OS Northings: 319850.902728

OS Grid: SK501198

Mapcode National: GBR 8KR.0XZ

Mapcode Global: WHDHP.NJFS

Entry Name: Cistercian abbey and mansion, with fishpond and mound at Garendon

Scheduled Date: 5 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009171

English Heritage Legacy ID: 17099

County: Leicestershire

Electoral Ward/Division: Loughborough Garendon

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Thorpe Acre with Dishley All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The monument at Garendon is situated 2km west of Loughborough and includes the
below ground remains of a Cistercian abbey and post medieval mansion, a
fishpond and a prospect mound. The monument is divided into two areas.

The first area includes the abbey which was founded in 1133 as a
daughter house of the Cistercian house of Waverley in Surrey. Following
dissolution in 1536, a palladian mansion was built over the west part of the
abbey in the 17th century, the cellars of which incorporated part of the abbey
structure. The mansion was in turn demolished in 1964. Excavations in 1966-68
established the plans of the chapter house and dormitory of the abbey and
located parts of the north and south transept chapels of the abbey church to
the north. The abbey drain, later used by the 17th century mansion as part of
the sewage system, lies on the south side of the abbey buildings and
originally extended from a pond situated to the west carrying water and refuse
from the abbey to an undergroud cess-pit to the east of the abbey. The western
part of the drain has not been investigated, but the known length extends for
75m and is 1.6m high and 0.8m wide in maximum dimensions. From the excavation
evidence, the location of the cellars of the mansion, and parallels with the
plans of other Cistercian houses, the abbey complex is known to have covered
an area measuring approximately 70 x 80m, but it is possible that the
buildings extended beyond the area of the scheduling. The 17th century mansion
is known to have measured approximately 100 x 40m.

The second area lies to the south east and contains an oval shaped prospect
mound at its eastern end measuring 25 x 15m and 3m high with a shallow ditch
on its south-eastern side. The mound formed a part of the formal garden laid
out following the construction of the mansion in the 17th century. To the
east of the mound is a fishpond, originally belonging to the abbey but adapted
as a 17th century garden feature. The fishpond measures 140 x 12m at its
widest point, narrowing to 4m wide at its eastern end. There are known to have
been further fishponds in the area but they have been modified by later
Two features of the abbey can be seen today, the exposed remains of the
chapter house and a section of the drain, the top of which is at the present
ground level. A building, known as the shooting lodge, situated on the north
side of the first area, is excluded from the the scheduling, although the
ground beneath it is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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. They belonged to a wide
variety of different religious orders, each with its own philosophy. As a
result, they vary considerably in the detail of their appearance and layout,
although all possess the basic elements of church, domestic accommodation for
the community, and work buildings. Monasteries were inextricably woven into
the fabric of medieval society, acting not only as centres of worship,
learning and charity, but also, because of the vast landholdings of some
orders, as centres of immense wealth and political influence. They were
established in all parts of England, some in towns and others in the remotest
of areas. Many monasteries acted as the foci of wide networks including parish
churches, almshouses, hospitals, farming estates and tenant villages. Some 75
of these religious houses belonged to the Cistercian order founded by St
Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th century. The Cistercians - or "white monks",
on account of their undyed habits - led a harsher life than earlier monastic
orders, believing in the virtue of a life of austerity, prayer and manual
labour. Seeking seclusion, they founded their houses in wild and remote areas
where they undertook major land improvement projects. Their communities were
often very large and included many lay brethren who acted as ploughmen,
dairymen, shepherds, carpenters and masons. The Cistercians' skills as farmers
eventually made the order one of the richest and most influential. They were
especially successful in the rural north of England where they concentrated on
sheep farming. The Cistercians made a major contribution to many facets of
medieval life and all of their monasteries which exhibit significant surviving
archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

The site at Garendon retains proven below ground features of the only
Cistercian house in Leicestershire, parts of which were later incorporated
into a 17th century mansion.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
McKinley, R A, The Victoria History of the County of Leicestershire , (1954)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire, (1804), 797
Williams, B C J, 'Bulletin of the Loughborough Archaeological Society' in Summary of the Excavations at Garendon Abbey, , Vol. 10, (1969), 17-26

Source: Historic England

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