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Augustinian nunnery known as Moxby Priory including mill and post Dissolution garden features

A Scheduled Monument in Marton-cum-Moxby, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.0944 / 54°5'39"N

Longitude: -1.0883 / 1°5'18"W

OS Eastings: 459720.975223

OS Northings: 466887.304863

OS Grid: SE597668

Mapcode National: GBR NPV3.50

Mapcode Global: WHFBJ.7BZZ

Entry Name: Augustinian nunnery known as Moxby Priory including mill and post Dissolution garden features

Scheduled Date: 1 January 1971

Last Amended: 25 May 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013088

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26938

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Marton-cum-Moxby

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Marton St Mary

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes earthwork remains of ancillary buildings of the
Augustinian nunnery, and medieval and later garden features at Moxby. The
monument lies on the west bank of the River Foss east of Saddington. The
extant earthworks are confined to a roughly L-shaped area of pasture, to the
south and east of Moxby Farm and comprise four major components; a series of
irregular compounds, a moated enclosure, one side of an elongated mill dam and
the site of the monastic mill. The area includes the southern and eastern
areas of the outer precinct of the nunnery, the main claustral buildings
being overlain by the present farm. The mill site in the south west corner of
the monument is preserved as a level platform 10m by 15m in size. It was
powered by the River Foss which lies directly to the east. The mill continued
in use after the Dissolution of the nunnery. In the 18th century the mill was
modified by the damming of the Foss and the creation of an elongated mill
pond, enclosed within earthen banks 77m long and up to 18m wide, of which
only the northern one still survives. The irregular compounds, each enclosed
by a a low bank, extend over most of the site, often overlapping each other,
thus indicating that earlier enclosures underwent later modification. Within
the south west side of the site is a near rectangular moated enclosure,
ditched on three sides with the fourth, the river side, obliterated by the
later river embankment. The moat was fed by a leat which drew water from the
Foss to the east of the monument and is interpreted as a post medieval garden
feature associated with the house which succeeded the nunnery.
Moxby Priory was half of a quasi double house of the Augustinian order
supporting nuns, the other half being at Marton, 3km to the north. Unusually
for this type of monument the two halves of the house were located at entirely
separate sites. The usual arrangement was for monks and nuns to be housed in
separate areas of the same complex, normally arranged around two
self-contained cloisters, with divided or separate churches. Established in
1158, the Moxby nuns were recorded in 1310 as belonging to the order of St
Benedict, but had become Augustinian by 1326. Moxby was always a small
establishment with never more than ten nuns. Following the suppression in 1536
the nunnery was converted into a family mansion which was demolished in the
mid 1850s. The area of the main conventual ranges lies beneath the existing
farm, however the full extent of their preservation cannot yet be fully
determined and they are therefore not included in the scheduling. Further
remains which may relate to the nunnery were identified during the 1950s in
the fields south west and west of the site, although these are now obscured by
agricultural activity and are not included in the scheduling.
All modern fences within the area are excluded from the scheduling although
the ground beneath 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

A nunnery was a settlement built to sustain a community of religious women.
Its main buildings were constructed to provide facilities for worship,
accommodation and subsistence. The main elements are the church and domestic
buildings arranged around a cloister. This central enclosure may be
accompanied by an outer court and gatehouse, the whole bounded by a precinct
wall, earthworks or moat. Outside the enclosure, fishponds, mills, field
systems, stock enclosures and barns may occur. The earliest English nunneries
were founded in the seventh century AD but most of these had fallen out of use
by the ninth century. A small number of these were later refounded. The tenth
century witnessed the foundation of some new houses but the majority of
medieval nunneries were established from the late 11th century onwards.
Nunneries were established by most of the major religious orders of the time,
including the Benedictines, Cistercians, Augustinians, Franciscans and
Dominicans. It is known from documentary sources that at least 153 nunneries
existed in England, of which the precise locations of only around 100 sites
are known. Few sites have been examined in detail and as a rare and poorly
understood medieval monument type all examples exhibiting survival of
archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

Whilst the identified remains at Moxby do not include the core of the nunnery,
they survive well and retain information on the wider economy and workings of
the site. The monument is a rare example of a quasi-double house with the two
parts of male and female orders housed in entirely separate establishments.
Double houses are themselves rare, with less than 30 examples identified,
most of which combined both houses at a single site. Moxby is unique in that
it is the only known example of a double house of the Augustinian order. The
site also retains significant evidence of post Dissolution use.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Mackay, D, Swan, V, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Earthworks At Marton And Moxby Priories, (1989), 79-84
Mackay, D, Swan, V, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Earthworks At Marton And Moxby Priories, (1989), 79-84

Source: Historic England

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