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Wykeham Chapel: a moated monastic grange and retreat house

A Scheduled Monument in Weston, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 52.82 / 52°49'11"N

Longitude: -0.1079 / 0°6'28"W

OS Eastings: 527597.883776

OS Northings: 326394.433046

OS Grid: TF275263

Mapcode National: GBR JY9.9HC

Mapcode Global: WHHMG.9CVZ

Entry Name: Wykeham Chapel: a moated monastic grange and retreat house

Scheduled Date: 5 January 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019096

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33131

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Weston

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Weston St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes a medieval moated monastic grange, together with the
remains of a retreat house and chapel at Wykeham. The grange was associated
with Spalding Priory, which housed a Benedictine order and lay 5km to the
south west. Originally a dependency of Crowland Abbey, the priory was re-
founded under the abbey of St Nicholas at Angers in 1074 and gained
independence from the abbey in 1397. By the mid-13th century the majority of
the land at Weston was in its hands. At the beginning of the 14th century
Prior Clement of Hatfield established a monastic grange at Wykeham where he
built a house and the chapel of St Nicholas in 1311. The establishment at
Wykeham served as a monastic retreat house, a place of rest and recuperation
for the monks. Following the Dissolution the chapel became a free chapel, and
in 1543 the estate passed to the Harington family. Between 1684 and 1787 it
was in the hands of the Ravenscroft family, passing to the Everard family in
1834. The chapel was repaired during the 17th century but by the latter part
of the 18th century, following the collapse of the roof, had fallen into
disuse. The standing remains of the chapel, which is a Listed Building Grade
I, and the adjoining graveyard lie at the centre of the moated grange and are
included in the scheduling. The present house stands 20m to the south west of
the chapel; constructed chiefly in red brick, the house dates from the late
17th century, with mid-18th century and 20th century additions, and is a
Listed Building Grade II.

The unroofed chapel is built of limestone ashlar and measures approximately
13m by 6.5m. The chapel's nave and chancel are one and entered by a pointed
doorway at the western end of the southern wall. The north and south walls
each have three large pointed windows, the westernmost window on each wall
being blocked by brick. The east wall has a large pointed window flanked
internally by ornate niches; a large pointed window in the opposite, west,
wall is blocked with brick. The blockings are believed to date from the 17th
century at about the time when the chapel floor was raised. Externally,
buttresses flank each of the large windows. There is a polygonal stair turret
at the south west corner of the chapel. The stair turret is entered, at ground
floor level, from inside the chapel by a pointed doorway, and the turret is
lit by narrow vertical openings. On the western external wall is the outline
of the roof and walls of a former building, including a blocked rectangular
window and doorway, thought to have provided access at first floor level
between the domestic accommodation and the chapel. In 1881 a number of
skeletons and a lead coffin were uncovered when the chapel floor was relaid. A
small enclosed rectangular graveyard, in use from the latter half of the 19th
century, adjoins the eastern end of the chapel.

The moated island is rectangular in plan, measuring 270m by 140m, with the
centre of the island, occupied by the chapel and present house, raised above
the surrounding ground level, indicating the location of the earlier house.
The house is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is
included. A pair of Listed Grade II limestone ashlar gatepiers, dating from
about 1700, stand at the south western edge of the monument and are also
excluded from the scheduling. Raised ground to the north west of the chapel is
thought to represent further buried building remains, such as domestic and
ancillary buildings associated with the monastic grange.

On the southern half of the island two raised linear earthworks, aligned north
-south and measuring 25m to 30m in width are separated by a partly
water-filled channel. These features are believed to represent the remains of
medieval dylings, raised strips that were a means of draining the land for
pastoral or arable use. Fourteenth century documentary references to Prior
Clement's works record the `dyking and raising of the lands' at Wykeham.
Linear depressions leading to the east and west from the northern end of the
channel indicate that there was formerly a more extensive system of drainage.
A shallow oval depression, thought to represent a pond, lies adjacent to the
west side of the broad north-south channel, close to the channel's junction
with the southern moat arm. A water-filled pond in the south eastern part of
the monument is believed to be of recent origin.

The surrounding moat is partly water-filled and measures up to 10m in width.
The moat is now crossed by two causeways on its western arm and by a narrow
causeway on its northern arm. The northernmost causeway on the western arm is
believed to indicate the location of an original access point to the island.

The ground within the graveyard, which is still in use for the interment of
cremations, is excluded from the scheduling to a depth of 0.5m, although the
ground beneath this is included. The house, the ashlar gatepiers, all fence
posts, boundary walls, outbuildings, the fuel tanks to the north of the farm
buildings, and the swimming pool are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and
independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile
labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for
consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide
surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th
century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution.
This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon
imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers
(secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident
labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were
specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms,
bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and
industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the
wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands
immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange.
Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands.
On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the
parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular
farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the
size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the
buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to
be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was
without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed
is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of
monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small
percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of
identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the
evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to
medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological
survival are identified as nationally important.

The moated monastic grange at Wykeham has been identified as the remains of a
monastic retreat house. Retreat houses were principally used for regular
periods of rest and recuperation which were required under Archbishop
Lanfranc's codification of the Benedictine Rule, a prominent feature of which
was blood-letting (seyneys) which was thought to be beneficial to health.
Apart from providing purpose-built accommodation for seyneys, retreat houses
were also used by senior monastic officials as places where the monastic rule
concerning diet, heating and conversation were relaxed. As a result, they have
features in common with both monastic infirmaries, which were also used for
seyneys, and secular manor houses of the period, although retreat houses also
required a chapel large enough to allow the continued observance of the
offices by those in residence. Confined to the Benedictine order, only some 80
to 100 retreat houses are thought to have existed, less than half of which are
currently recorded as surviving archaeological sites.

The moated monastic grange, retreat house and chapel survive well as a series
of standing, earthwork and buried remains. Its specific function as a monastic
grange and retreat house, together with the unusual survival of the chapel,
makes this a particularly rare example of its kind. The chapel, earthworks and
buried remains will contain valuable information on the layout and use of the
site and will contribute to our understanding of medieval monastic and rural
life. The artificially raised ground will preserve evidence of land use prior
to the construction of the site. In addition, waterlogging in the moat will
preserve organic remains, such as timber, leather and seeds, which will give
an insight into the domestic and economic activity on the site. The continued
use of the site in the post-medieval period demonstrates its ongoing
importance as a feature of the landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hallam, H E, Settlement and society, (1965)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire: Volume II, (1906)
Moore, E, 'Linconshire Notes & Queries' in Weston, Wykeham Chapel, , Vol. 16, (1920), 1-17
White, Mr , (1999)

Source: Historic England

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