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Pre-Conquest monastery, early Christian cemetery, Augustinian priory and a motte and bailey castle at Christchurch

A Scheduled Monument in Town Centre, Dorset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.7323 / 50°43'56"N

Longitude: -1.7743 / 1°46'27"W

OS Eastings: 416021.931812

OS Northings: 92548.393304

OS Grid: SZ160925

Mapcode National: GBR 55B.VMB

Mapcode Global: FRA 7754.NL8

Entry Name: Pre-Conquest monastery, early Christian cemetery, Augustinian priory and a motte and bailey castle at Christchurch

Scheduled Date: 31 December 1987

Last Amended: 29 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018277

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22962

County: Dorset

Electoral Ward/Division: Town Centre

Built-Up Area: Christchurch

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Christchurch Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Winchester

Details

The monument includes a pre-Conquest monastery and associated early Christian
cemetery, a later Augustinian priory and an adjacent motte and bailey castle,
all situated on level ground between the estuaries of the Rivers Avon and
Stour at Christchurch. The priory precinct overlies part of, and extends
beyond, the fortified town of Twynham, which dates from the early seventh
century AD. The pre-Conquest monastery and cemetery lay within the boundaries
of the town.
The earliest remains at the site include the pre-Conquest monastery and an
associated early Christian cemetery. The monastery was associated with the
Saxon burgh (fortified town) known as `Twynham' (meaning place between the
streams). Documentary sources suggest that a church, founded at the site
during the later Saxon period, served a college of 24 canons. Records also
suggest that by the late 11th century the Saxon church was associated with
seven chapels within the churchyard, and that these were demolished c.1100 AD
in order to make way for a new church building designed by Flambard. This in
turn became the priory church of the Augustinian priory founded by Baldwin de
Redvers around 1150. The church was incomplete at this time and the nave was
not finally completed until 1234. The priory formed an important Augustinian
house within the region and its presence ensured that the town thrived as a
trading centre. This importance is reflected in the change of the name from
Twynham to Christchurch soon after the construction of the priory.
The priory church is well preserved and has served as the parish church since
1540, when it was granted to the parish by Henry VIII. The churchyard is now
closed.
The main monastic structures were around the cloister block, situated to the
south of the church. Many of these were demolished following The Dissolution,
but partial excavation has confirmed the survival of foundations beneath and
around Priory House, which was constructed to the south of the church in 1765.
The area surrounding the priory church and associated monastic structures was
enclosed by a wall, forming a precinct about 4ha in area. This area is known
precisely from a combination of documentary sources, standing remains and
partial excavations. The precinct was constrained by existing development to
the north and a mill-leat to the south and east. The course of the priory
wall, which has been rebuilt over the years, includes fragments of original
wall constructed of sandstone blocks. The precinct was entered via a gateway
in the north west which survives as a sandstone built wall approximately 2m
high. The adjacent Priory Cottage originally formed a gatehouse built by
Prior Draper in 1520. Partial excavation within the southern precinct area
has revealed the presence of two garderobes built against the priory wall to
the north of the mill leat.
The south western area of the precinct contained Place Mill, mentioned as a
property of the priory in the Domesday Survey. The mill has stone foundations
dating from the 12th century and was served by a millstream which diverted
water from the River Avon approximately 1km to the north east. Immediately to
the north east of the mill is a stone-built loading quay and bridge across the
leat, both of which are included in the scheduling. Place Mill is the only
water powered flour mill known to have served the priory and town during the
medieval period. In 1539 it was converted into a fulling mill for the
preparation of woollen cloth and the structure was extensively renovated. It
was leter re-converted into a flour mill and continued in operation until
1908, when it became a boat store. The mill was restored in 1980 and opened to
the public.
The castle is situated to the north east of the priory and was constructed by
Richard de Redvers around AD 1100. The Norman castle included a motte or
earthen mound and an adjacent enclosure, known as a bailey. The motte mound
has maximum dimensions of 50m in diameter and approximately 5m in height and
may, originally, have supported a timber tower. The motte was enlarged to its
present size in order to accommodate the stone keep or tower which was built
after AD 1300. The bailey occupied the area to the north east of the motte
and, originally, it will have been defined by banks and walls. Partial
excavations have demonstrated the presence of buried archaeological deposits
within this area. To the north east is the well preserved structure of the
Norman great hall which dates from c.AD 1160. The hall is aligned north west
by south east and has maximum dimensions of 18.5m by 7m. The structure is
likely to have provided the main accommodation of the Norman castle and it
continued in use over a long period. It later became the residence of the
Constable and is now often known as `The Constable's House'. Both the castle
and The Constable's House are Listed Grade I and are in the care of the
Secretary of State.
The castle was besieged and captured by Walter de Pinkney in 1148.
Subsequently, although re-fortified, it became a residence and played little
strategic role in later conflicts. Despite playing little part in the Civil
War, the castle was ordered to be demolished by Parliament in 1651, when its
defences were levelled. The area has been used as public gardens for much of
the 20th century.
Excluded from the scheduling are the structures of the priory church (Listed
Grade I) in use as a parish church, Priory House (Listed Grade II) in use as
church offices and for robing of the clergy, Priory Cottage (Listed Grade II*)
which is in residential use, the brick structure interior of Place Mill
(Listed Grade II*) including the machinery, which is all of 17th century date
or later, (although the stone foundations and associated water channels are
included), the structure of the Tricycle Museum, all fence posts, gates,
railings, sign-posts, lamp posts, benches, metalled surfaces, all modern
structures, including the public shelter, modern bowls pavilion and shed,
although the ground beneath all of these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The early medieval burgh of Twynham, one of nine burghs and 12 early medieval
towns in the east Wessex sub-province of southern England, contained within
its southern portion a rare pre-Conquest monastery and associated cemetery,
later replaced by a priory and a castle.
The earlier remains survive in buried form, being one of only around 50 of the
pre-Conquest monastic sites in England whose location has been confirmed, in
this case by partial excavation since 1969. The later features remain visible
as a combination of earthworks and standing structures, with additional buried
remains also recorded.
The two principal components visible today can be found adjacent to one
another in the south of the modern town. The priory is one of some 225
religious houses nationally to belong to the order of St Augustine, a number
of which were established in towns. Augustinians were not monks in the strict
sense, but rather communities of canons - or priests - living under the rule
of St Augustine. In England they came to be known as `black canons' because
of their dark coloured robes. From the 12th century onwards they undertook
much valuable work in the parishes, running almshouses, schools and hospitals,
as well as maintaining, and preaching in, parish churches. It was from the
churches that they derived much of their revenue.
North of the priory is the motte and bailey castle, of which the motte is the
most striking feature. Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications
introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound
of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber
tower. In a majority of cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of
local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside,
motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating
their locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of
the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600
motte castles or motte and bailey castles are recorded nationally, with
examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of recognised
early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for many were
occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built
and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were
superseded by other types of castle.
The clear juxtaposition of priory and castle dominates the modern town of
Christchurch, in a way that can rarely be seen elsewhere. The quality and
extent of surviving remains in addition to documentary records covering the
early medieval and medieval periods, give Christchurch much significance in
the study of urban form and development. Visually it is an outstanding
example of its type, with much accessible to the public.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Christchurch Hundred, (1912), 89
Christchurch Hundred, (1912), 89
Christchurch Hundred, (1912), 89
The Victoria History of the County of Hampshire: Volume V, (1912), 90
The Victoria History of the County of Hampshire: Volume V, (1912), 90
The Victoria History of the County of Hampshire: Volume V, (1912), 90
The Victoria History of the County of Hampshire: Volume V, (1912), 90
The Victoria History of the County of Hampshire: Volume V, (1912), 90
The Victoria History of the County of Hampshire: Volume V, (1912), 90
The Victoria History of the County of Hampshire: Volume V, (1912), 90
The Victoria History of the County of Hampshire: Volume V, (1912), 90
The Victoria History of the County of Hampshire: Volume V, (1912), 90
The Victoria History of the County of Hampshire: Volume V, (1912), 153
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 14
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 14
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 14
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 15
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 15
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 7
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 14
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 15
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 7
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 7
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 15
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 15
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 7
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 14
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 7
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 7
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 15
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 14
Jarvis, K S, Excavations at Christchurch 1969-80, (1983), 14
Pevsner, N, Lloyd, D, The Buildings of England: Hampshire, (1979), 177
Pevsner, N, Lloyd, D, The Buildings of England: Hampshire, (1979), 177
Jarvis, K S, 'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in Christchurch Castle: New Bowls Pavillion, (1987), 134
Jarvis, K S, 'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in Christchurch Castle: New Bowls Pavillion, (1987), 134
Jarvis, K S, 'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in Excavations at Christchurch Priory 1985, , Vol. Vol 107, (1985), 170-1
Jarvis, K S, 'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in Excavations at Christchurch Priory 1985, , Vol. Vol 107, (1985), 170-1
Jarvis, K S, 'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in Excavations at Christchurch Priory 1985, , Vol. Vol 107, (1985), 170-1
Manby, T C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Duffield Castle Excavations 1957, , Vol. Mon 5, (1959), 11
Manby, T C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Duffield Castle Excavations 1957, , Vol. Mon 5, (1959), 11
Manby, T C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Duffield Castle Excavations 1957, , Vol. Mon 5, (1959), 11
Manby, T C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Duffield Castle Excavations 1957, , Vol. Mon 5, (1959), 11
Manby, T C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Duffield Castle Excavations 1957, , Vol. Mon 5, (1959), 11
Manby, T C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Duffield Castle Excavations 1957, , Vol. Mon 5, (1959), 11
Manby, T C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Duffield Castle Excavations 1957, , Vol. Mon 5, (1959), 11
Manby, T C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Duffield Castle Excavations 1957, , Vol. Mon 5, (1959), 11
Other
Built by de Redvers, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Date of gatehouse,
Description of chimney, Listing Details for Dorset: (Christchurch),
Description of walls, Listing Details for Dorset: (Christchurch),
Description of windows, Listing Details for Dorset: (Christchurch),
Details of designers of Priory Church,
Details of eastern and western walls, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Details of north and south walls, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Details of Priory wall,
Details of the fabric of Priory wall,
Foundation by de Redvers in c.1150,
Integrated into outer defences, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Limestone/ironstone construction, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention 12th century origin, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention bridge, Listing Details: Christchurch District,
Mention collegiate college,
Mention late name 'Constable's House', RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention later brickwork, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention location of gateway,
Mention millstream,
Mention partial excavations, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention possible early defences to E, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention reference in Domesday Survey, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Mention site captured by de Pinkney, RCHME, National Monuments Record ,
Nave completed in 1234,
Priory replaced collegiate college,
Situated within NE area of castle, RCHME, National Monuments Record,
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series
Source Date:
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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