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Premonstratensian Abbey at Bayham

A Scheduled Monument in Frant, East Sussex

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Latitude: 51.1029 / 51°6'10"N

Longitude: 0.3554 / 0°21'19"E

OS Eastings: 565003.749119

OS Northings: 136371.694265

OS Grid: TQ650363

Mapcode National: GBR NRM.SSK

Mapcode Global: VHJN3.3JRW

Entry Name: Premonstratensian Abbey at Bayham

Scheduled Date: 4 August 1933

Last Amended: 17 October 1990

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012541

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12804

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Frant

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Frant with Eridge

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The Abbey at Bayham was founded shortly before 1211 and belonged to the
Premonstratensian Order of canons. It includes not only the ruins of the
church and its cloister, and the gatehouse to the north, but also the
surrounding area of the monastic precinct within which stood other necessary
buildings such as the infirmary, water mill, brewhouse, bakehouse, barns,
stables and other storage buildings. In this area is an embanked mill-leat
and there are also considered likely to have been fishponds and small
agricultural plots, or closes, which provided at least some of the produce
needed to support the community of monks.
The monastic boundary was defined by moats on three sides which helped to
drain the Abbey's grounds at the same time as defining its extent. The
western side of the precinct was formed by a bank and ditch which survives to
a height of 0.6m and part of which is marked by a mature hedge. The sequence
of buildings in part of this area is known from excavations between 1973-76.
The components of the cloister and gatehouse were identified, and building was
shown to have taken place through the 13th century with further modifications
in the 15th century. After the Abbey's dissolution in May 1525, parts of the
Abbey were used for iron-working on a small scale. The ruins were
incorporated into a romanticized landscape around 1800, based on the ideas of
William Wilkins and Humphry Repton.
Excluded from the scheduling are the Dower House, the storage sheds, all
fences and gates, the access road (and service trenches) and the two bridges,
although the ground beneath each remains included in the scheduling.
The Abbey is a Grade I listed building, part of the monument is also in the
Guardianship of the Secretary of State for the Environment.

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 integrity and diversity of the Bayham Abbey precinct, disturbed only by
the Dower House of 1752 and by the lake to the north-east created ca.1800,
provides a potentially outstanding opportunity to understand the development
of the monastery. The part played by the ruins of the Abbey in the
landscaping plans of Repton and Wilkins also provides a useful insight into
late 18th century approaches to such monuments.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Rigold, S, Coad, J, Bayham Abbey, (1985)
S.A.S. Lewes, Streeten, A, Bayham Abbey, (1983)

Source: Historic England

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