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Dodford Priory moated site

A Scheduled Monument in Dodford with Grafton, Worcestershire

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Latitude: 52.354 / 52°21'14"N

Longitude: -2.1 / 2°5'59"W

OS Eastings: 393288.329136

OS Northings: 272886.570123

OS Grid: SO932728

Mapcode National: GBR 2FP.HWG

Mapcode Global: VH923.K367

Entry Name: Dodford Priory moated site

Scheduled Date: 23 February 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018278

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30022

County: Worcestershire

Civil Parish: Dodford with Grafton

Built-Up Area: Dodford

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Church of England Parish: Dodford Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Worcester


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the large triangular
moated site of Dodford Priory measuring approximately 240m by 180m, and
orientated north-south. The monument is located within a steep, narrow valley,
on gently rising ground at the head of the valley.
The priory was founded in 1184 and fell within the confines of the Royal
Forest of Feckenham. Dodford Priory was a small cell of Augustinian canons and
was never wealthy. It was annexed by the Premonstratensian monastery of
Halesowen in 1332. By 1500 only one canon remained serving the chapel and the
estates were leased out. The priory was dissolved in 1536.
The moat island is large, measuring approximately 200m by 165m. The main
buildings of the priory were sited in the vicinity of the present house which
is believed to contain the remains of the refectory. Some traces of earlier
structures can be seen in the gardens around the existing house. The chapel is
thought to have been on the south side of the court. The northern portion of
the island has been used as an orchard and has an uneven surface with
depressions indicating the survival of either building or garden remains. The
surface of the island is lower than that of the surrounding land, except
towards the north where the island slopes gently upward.
The circuit of the moat is complete except along the northern angle, towards
the road where it has been partly infilled and built over. The moat is
water-logged and is 15m to 20m wide across the top and 2m to 5m deep being
steeply cut through the underlying Keuper Marl.
The moated site was supplied by a stream to the west which is deeply cut and
is thought to have constituted the western arm of the moat.
To the east of the buildings are the remains of two substantial fishponds,
which survive as reinstated ponds orientated north east to south west. Each
measures approximately 40m long, and they vary between 5m and 15m wide. Both
are included in the scheduling. To the north of the ponds are the remains of a
leat which entered the site from the western corner near the stream and may
have fed the ponds. This is incorrectly marked as a moat on earlier Ordnance
Survey maps.
The modern house and all associated structures, all modern surfaces, modern
garden features and furniture and all modern fencing are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features 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. Some 225
of these religious houses belonged to the order of St Augustine. The
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 and to
distinguish them from the Cistercians who wore light clothing. 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. The Augustinians made a major contribution to many facets of medieval
life and all of their monasteries which exhibit significant surviving
archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

The moated site at Dodford Priory preserves a discrete enclosed precinct of a
small rural priory. It demonstrates the compact nature of such minor monastic
sites, and the majority of structures needed to secure the self sufficiency of
the cell are likely to survive. The earthworks at the site indicate that
buried remains survive within the island, and the water-logged conditions of
the moat, the fishponds and the leat will probably preserve environmental
deposits. The site is also of importance in having been incorporated into a
second monastic order and may demonstrate alterations in response to the
requirements of a different order. The site will provide opportunities to
examine the differing regimes, both agricultural and domestic, of manorial and
monastic society during the later medieval period, as from 1500 and beyond the
Reformation the property was leased out to private individuals.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bond, WL, From Hamlet to Parish, the story of Dodford, Worcestershire, (1972), 7 -15
Aston, M., Unpublished survey of Dodford Priory, 1970, SMR files
various smr officers, Unpublished notes of Dodford Priory, SMR files 1960's to 1990's.

Source: Historic England

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