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Franciscan friary

A Scheduled Monument in Richmond, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.4048 / 54°24'17"N

Longitude: -1.738 / 1°44'16"W

OS Eastings: 417102.431896

OS Northings: 501069.969486

OS Grid: NZ171010

Mapcode National: GBR JK9H.JR

Mapcode Global: WHC6D.8KM1

Entry Name: Franciscan friary

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 11 February 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020405

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34833

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Richmond

Built-Up Area: Richmond

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Richmond with Holy Trinity with Hudswell

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument includes buried and standing remains of the Franciscan friary at
Richmond. It is located on the north western edge of the medieval town,
outside the area formerly enclosed by the town walls. The monument occupies
the park and gardens surrounding the friary bell tower and the ground east of
and below the modern Friary Hospital and includes the core of the medieval
friary site. It has been identified from standing ruins, geophysical surveys,
small-scale excavations and documentary references.

The friary was founded in 1257-8 on a half-acre (0.2ha) plot of land granted
by Ralph Fitz Randal, Lord of Middleham, whose heart is reputed to be buried
in the choir of the friary church. The first buildings were constructed of
timber primarily to meet St Francis' ideals of poverty and his vision of a
community needing only humble churches and dwellings of mud and wood. This
early spirit was eroded and by the late 13th century lavish and ornate stone
buildings comparable to the other monastic orders were being built at
Franciscan houses throughout the country. Documents from the 14th century and
the surviving architecture of the church shows that Richmond friary followed
this pattern of expansion and lavishness. In 1364, there was a grant of four
acres (1.62ha) `for the enlargement of the house' and in 1383 one and a half
acres (0.6ha) of meadow were added. In 1386 a detailed inventory of the
friary was drawn up as part of a lawsuit. This records that the friary
included a guest house, a washroom, a building called `les studies' adjacent
to the dormitory, the refectory and parlour. During the 14th century a south
aisle with stained glass windows was added to the church and a postern gate
was inserted into the medieval town wall to the south in order to allow easy
access from the town to the friary. One reason given for the gate is that the
friary possessed a reliable water supply; sophisticated water management
systems being common place in medieval monastic houses at a time when they
were notably absent in secular society. The surviving bell tower was built in
the later part of the 15th century and was built over the passageway between
the chancel and nave of the friary church.

The friary was dissolved in January 1539 when there were 14 brethren and a
warden in residence. The dissolution survey describes the friary estate as
comprising two distinct parcels of land. One focused on the church and
included the friary buildings covering half an acre (0.2ha) with an area of
waste ground and orchard covering two acres (0.8ha). The other parcel of land
was the Friary Closes, which covered seven acres (2.8ha) enclosed by a stone
wall and valued at 21 shillings. The monument includes the first of these land
parcels, focussed on the church and core buildings. The wider precinct which
included the area known as Friary Closes lay to the immediate west and north
and can still be identified today, being defined by Victoria Road to the
south, Wellington Place to the west and Quaker Lane to the north. This larger
area is not included in the monument. The friary estate was leased to Ralph
Gower, followed by Sir Timothy Hutton and in 1634 it passed to the Robinson
family and remained in their possession until the end of the 19th century.
Some of the friary buildings continued in use after the Dissolution, and it is
known that the Hutton family had a house at the site in the early 17th century
which may have been incorporated into one of the surviving buildings. Maps
and illustrations from 1610, 1724 and 1773 show this house as well as a range
of other buildings around the church tower. In the late 18th century the house
and immediate area was remodelled and a plan of 1818 shows the house with
pleasure gardens to the south and south east and the bell tower included in
the grounds as a picturesque feature.

The remains at Richmond, combined with a wider understanding of friaries
elsewhere, demonstrate that it followed the typical layout of a monastic
house, with an east to west orientated church forming the southern side of a
four-sided complex known as the cloister. The cloister housed domestic
buildings and offices connected with the administrative functions of the house
such as the chapter house, guesthouse, kitchens and refectory. The dormitory
would be located on the upper storey of the eastern range, to allow direct
access to the church. The church lay to the south of the cloister because the
lay congregation accessed it directly from the town, and thus the cloister was
positioned on the more secluded northern side. The cloister lay at the centre
of an enclosure known as the inner precinct, which contained a range of
further buildings required for the economic and social functions of the friary
such as an infirmary, yards and bake house.

Beyond the precinct there was a larger area, known as the outer precinct,
which supported further activities associated with the friary. At Richmond the
outer precinct lay to the north and west of the core friary buildings and it
is known from documentary sources that the area was divided up into separate
enclosures used for orchards, meadows and woodland.

The remains of Richmond friary are dominated by the bell tower which stands to
its full height. The other upstanding remains are the eastern end of the aisle
with its double pointed arch window and a 6m length of the northern wall of
the chancel extending from the north eastern angle of the tower. Excavations
have identified the chancel extending for at least 22m to the east of the
tower and geophysical survey has identified the nave and aisle extending for
24m to the west. Further below ground remains of the friary survive to the
north of the ruins in the area to the east and south of the modern Friary
Hospital. These have been revealed through geophysical survey and excavation
and include walls, doorways and areas of medieval debris indicating demolished
buildings. The walls survive immediately below current ground level and
measure 1m wide and are up to 2m deep. The pattern of surviving below ground
remains show that the friary buildings originally extended beneath the modern
hospital and the south western wing of the hospital may incorporate an earlier
friary building.

The church ruins and bell tower are Listed Grade I and the Friary Hospital is
Listed Grade II.

Excavations in the 1920s and 1990s revealed a number of human skeletons to the
south of the church in the area adjacent to Victoria Road. It is not clear
whether this was a burial ground used exclusively for friars or whether local
inhabitants were also interred.

A number of features are excluded from the monument. These are: the Friary
Hospital buildings, the surface of the car park, yards and paths, kerbs,
bollards, benches, the covered seat, all signs, the wall and railings on
the south side of the hospital gardens, walls around the flower beds, the
summer house, the wall adjacent to Victoria Road, the tourist information
centre and public toilets; however the ground beneath all these features
is included. The war memorial is also included in the scheduling as it is
a semi-sunken feature behind which archaeological remains will survive.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A friary is an institution housing a community of friars. The friars (from the
Latin "frater" meaning "brother") were a novel religious movement which began
in Italy in the late 12th century and which advocated a "mendicant" life-
style. Owning no property of their own, they lived by moving from community to
community begging for the alms and gifts of benefactors as they went. Unlike
the older monastic orders, who were dedicated to a continuous round of prayer
within a single monastery, the friars main concerns were preaching, evangelism
and learning as they moved from friary to friary. Friaries were established in
England from the early 13th century onwards, the first houses being founded in
Canterbury, London and Oxford during 1224. By the time of the dissolution of
the religious orders in the 1530s approximately 189 friaries had been founded
for a number of different groups of friars, each with their individual
missions. The most important groups were the Franciscans (the Greyfriars), who
eventually established some 60 houses, the Dominicans (the Blackfriars -
represented by 50 houses), the Carmelites (the Whitefriars with 41 houses) and
the Augustinians or Austin Friars who had a similar number. In addition to
these large groups there were a number of smaller ones: the Crutched Friars (9
houses), the Friars of the Sack (17 houses), the Pied Friars (3 houses) and
the Trinitarian Friars (5 houses).
The sites chosen by or for friaries were usually within towns, often in the
less valuable, marginal areas. Here the friars laid out groups of buildings
with many components found on older monastic sites, though the restricted
sites sometimes necessitated unconventional building plans. The buildings were
centred on a church and a cloister and usually contained a refectory (dining
hall), a chapter house and an infirmary (for the care of the sick). The
buildings were set within a precinct defined by other properties or by its own
purpose built wall, but the public were not totally excluded. The naves of the
friary churches, in particular, were designed to accommodate large public
gatherings assembled to hear the friars preach.
Friaries made a great contribution to later medieval life, in the towns
particularly, and their remains add greatly to our understanding of the close
inter-relationship between social and religious aspects of life in the high
Middle Ages. All examples which exhibit significant surviving archaeological
remains are worthy of protection.

The buried and standing remains of Richmond Franciscan friary survive well.
The survival of the tower in its complete form is particularly unusual,
because the sites of most friaries, due to their urban location, have been
built over. Richmond also possesses a significant amount of detailed
contemporary documents. Taken together the surviving remains and documentary
evidence provides important information about the development of the friary
and its impact on the urban landscape of Richmond.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Adamson, C, The Greyfriars of Richmond, Investigations in the Memorial Gards, (1998)
Diamond, S, 'OSA Report' in Friary Gardens Richmond North Yorkshire, (2000)
OSA Report 98WB04, Sheehan, P, Richmond Community Hospital and site of the Greyfriars of Richmo, (1999)

Source: Historic England

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