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Leez Augustinian Priory, fishponds and Tudor mansion, Leez

A Scheduled Monument in Felsted, Essex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8428 / 51°50'34"N

Longitude: 0.4622 / 0°27'44"E

OS Eastings: 569714.286

OS Northings: 218890.429488

OS Grid: TL697188

Mapcode National: GBR PJ5.HP1

Mapcode Global: VHJJG.YYQ5

Entry Name: Leez Augustinian Priory, fishponds and Tudor mansion, Leez

Scheduled Date: 17 January 1962

Last Amended: 7 March 1990

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013148

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12607

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Felsted

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Felsted Holy Cross

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

Details

The monument comprises the remains of the Augustinian Priory of Leighs or
Leez, its extensive fishponds and also the remains of the post-dissolution
mansion built on its site by Sir Richard Rich, first Chancellor of the Court
of Augmentation. The monument is divided into two areas by a modern road.
The priory was founded c.1200. It possessed a church with lady chapel, a
cloister on the north side of the church, courts with ranges of monastic
buildings, and an extensive and complex series of fishponds and leats.
Landscaping and excavation of the monastic foundations have, in part,
revealed the plan of the Priory, while the dissolution account of Leez is
one of the most complete in existence. The visible remains of the church
are largely of 13th century date.
After its dissolution, the Priory site was acquired in 1536 by Sir Richard
Rich, later titled Lord Rich of Leighs from 1546. Rich demolished parts of
the Priory and built a brick mansion in its place. The new house
incorporated the church and cloister into the house's inner court. It
continued in occupation after Rich's time until the mid-18th century, and
17th-18th century culverts, a stone "conduit" (probably re-using a louvre of
the great hall) on the site of the cloister and other garden features
enhance the monastic plan. Much of the house was demolished after its
purchase by St Guy's Hospital in 1735.
All the standing buildings and structures on the site which are listed are
excluded from this scheduling although the ground beneath them is included.
These exclusions are as follows:- remains of the 16th century and later
house's outer court, the inner and outer gatehouses, the garden walls, the
`Fisherman's Hut' and the associated outer court buildings. Additionally
the bridge at TL 696192 is excluded, although the land beneath it is
included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Leez Priory was one of 11 Augustinian houses in Essex, the third richest of
the order in the county, both when accounts are available in 1291 and at the
dissolution in 1532, and it was throughout its life a large and important
house. Because of its rural position and its later, post-dissolution use,
it is one of only a few priories to survive relatively intact, with all the
main elements of the monastic site preserved in the landscape - as standing
remains including rare outer court buildings, archaeologically-exposed
foundations, and as significant earthworks including very extensive and well
preserved fishponds.
The mansion built by Lord Rich is in addition one of the best examples of
the wholesale conversion of a religious house to post-dissolution domestic
use. The use of the church itself as the central element of the house is of
particular note, such re-use being a very rare occurrence. Undisturbed
remains of houses of this date and type, especially of such high status, are
not common, and the remains of Rich's mansion constitute in themselves a
monument of national importance.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Howard, M, The Early Tudor Country House: Architecture and Politics 1490-1550, (1987), 148-150
Page, W, Round, JH, The Victoria History of the County of Essex: Volume II, (1907), 155-57
Page, W, Round, JH, The Victoria History of the County of Essex: Volume II, (1907), 155-7
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (E), , Essex, (1921), 158-161
Chancellor, F, Sargeaunt, J, 'Trans Essex Archaeol Soc' in Lees Priory, , Vol. V, (1895), 44-52
Clapham, A W, 'Trans Essex Archaeol Soc' in The Augustinian Priory Of Little Leez And Mansion Of Leez Priory, , Vol. XIII,3, (1901), 198-216
Wood, J M, 'Journ British Archaeol Assoc' in Notices of Lees Priory with descript of its underground passages, , Vol. XLIII, (1887), 21-5

Source: Historic England

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