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Hagnaby Abbey: a Premonstratensian abbey and a post-medieval house and formal garden

A Scheduled Monument in Hannah cum Hagnaby, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.302 / 53°18'7"N

Longitude: 0.2259 / 0°13'33"E

OS Eastings: 548426.211346

OS Northings: 380648.761559

OS Grid: TF484806

Mapcode National: GBR ZZ08.P1

Mapcode Global: WHJLF.F8SG

Entry Name: Hagnaby Abbey: a Premonstratensian abbey and a post-medieval house and formal garden

Scheduled Date: 8 January 1970

Last Amended: 16 March 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011454

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22616

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Hannah cum Hagnaby

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Hannah cum Hagnaby with Markby

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the remains of Hagnaby Abbey, a Premonstratensian
monastery founded by Agnes de Orreby in 1175-6 as a dependent priory of
Welbeck Abbey. Dedicated to St Thomas the Martyr of Canterbury, in 1250 it
became an independent abbey under the abbacy of Robert of Retford. It was a
relatively small establishment of up to about 13 canons and had limited
endowments in the county of Lincolnshire. The abbey was dissolved in 1536 and
the property sold to John Freeman of London; thereafter the site was occupied
by a large country house, in ruins by the 19th century. The remains of the
medieval monastery are thus overlain by those of a post-medieval house with
extensive gardens and the monument includes the earthworks of both medieval
and post-medieval buildings, ponds, ditches and associated features.

The monument lies on the marsh between Alford and Mablethorpe, surviving in an
area of pastureland which stands above the surrounding arable. The remains
take the form of a group of earthworks contained within a large, ditched
enclosure. At the highest part of the site, near the centre of the monument,
is a raised area c.60m square which includes the earthworks of building
foundations. Fragments of dressed stone are visible on the surface. This is
the site of the main monastic buildings, including the church and claustral
ranges, and of the secular house which succeeded them. Adjacent to the east,
north and south-west are further building remains including fragments of
brick. These are considered to represent the remains of largely post-medieval
buildings associated with the secular house, including service buildings and
garden structures.

Surrounding these areas of building remains are the earthworks of extensive
water-control features, including ponds and channels. In the south-eastern
part of the monument is a series of interconnecting linear channels, partly
water-filled, which form a group of small rectangular enclosures; to the north
are the remains of a larger ditched enclosure surrounding a narrow pond,
approximately 65m x 4m, with a semicircular mound at each end. These are
considered to represent the remains of the formal gardens which were laid out
in the post-medieval period around the house.

Further remains of the post-medieval gardens include partial re-cuttings of
earlier features. In the south-western part of the monument is a large pond,
over 130m long and 10m wide and aligned north-south; on the southern boundary
of the monument is a water-filled ditch with an internal bank. Approximately
45m from the northern boundary of the monument is another, partly
water-filled ditch, with a linear channel running south-westwards from its
western end. These features are considered to represent the course of the
monastic precinct moat, later partly re-cut as garden and drainage features.
To the west and north of the inner precinct are further earthworks, including
ponds and other depressions. These are considered to include the remains of
medieval fishponds and other features associated with the abbey and
post-medieval house.

All fences are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them
is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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. The
Premonstratensian order, or "White Canons", were not monks in the strict sense
but rather communities of priests living together under a rule. The first
Premonstratensian establishments were double houses (for men and women), but
later they founded some 45 houses for men in England. The Premonstratensian
order modelled itself on the Cistercian values of austerity and seclusion and
founded all its monasteries in rural locations.

The remains of Hagnaby Abbey survive well as earthworks and as buried deposits
which have been undisturbed by excavation. Waterlogging in the ponds, moats
and other channels suggests a high level of survival for organic remains. The
potential for the recovery of material relating to industrial activity, such
as tanning, is also good. The monument will preserve valuable evidence for the
relationship of the monastery with the marshland landscape in which it was
founded and with the secular mansion which succeeded it. The remains of the
post-medieval house and the earthworks of its surrounding formal gardens are
of interest in their own right; the garden earthworks particularly survive
well and illustrate developments in the style of garden layout over a period
of at least two centuries.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971), 184,189
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire: Volume II, (1906), 205-206
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire: Volume II, (1906), 205-206
Pevsner, N, John, H, The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire, (1964), 266
White, A J, Hagnaby Abbey (Hannah-cum-Hagnaby) TF 484 806, (1977)
White, A J, Hagnaby Abbey (Hannah-cum-Hagnaby) TF 484 806, (1977)
White, A J, Hagnaby Abbey (Hannah-cum-Hagnaby) TF 484 806, (1977)
White, W, White's Directory of Lincolnshire, (1842), 318
Dudding, R C, 'Lincolnshire Notes & Queries' in Hagnaby Abbey, , Vol. XVIII, 1, (1924), 10-13
computerised record, Hagnaby Abbey - Site No. 00190, (1990)
computerised record, Hagnaby Abbey - Site Number 00190, (1990)
computerised record, Hagnaby Abbey - Site Number 00190, (1990)
SMR parish file - ms notes, White, A J, Hagnaby Abbey, (1979)

Source: Historic England

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