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Burscough Augustinian Priory

A Scheduled Monument in Derby, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.5828 / 53°34'58"N

Longitude: -2.8566 / 2°51'23"W

OS Eastings: 343386.53225

OS Northings: 409921.829677

OS Grid: SD433099

Mapcode National: GBR 8WH0.CD

Mapcode Global: WH86J.26ZP

Entry Name: Burscough Augustinian Priory

Scheduled Date: 26 June 1924

Last Amended: 22 June 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021355

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35046

County: Lancashire

Electoral Ward/Division: Derby

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Burscough Bridge St John

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool


The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of that part of
Burscough Augustinian Priory located immediately east and south of Abbey Farm
and Abbey Cottage.

Burscough Priory was founded by Robert Fitz Henry, Lord of Lathom and
Knowsley, in about 1190 and dedicated to St Nicholas. In about 1280 the church
was enlarged by extending it eastwards. Burscough Priory was dissolved in 1536
and the buildings were condemned to destruction but apparently stood for a few
more years. Documentary sources indicate that the church had been demolished
by 1572.

Limited investigation undertaken in the 1880s located substantial buried
structural remains of the church and numerous associated buildings, and
this enabled a plan of the buried remains located to the east and south of
Abbey Farm and Abbey Cottage to be produced. The church is aligned
east-west with the nave at the west end and a chancel at the east. There
is a south transept and a north transept either side of the crossing.
Remains of a north aisle were found on the north side of the nave with a
mortuary between the aisle and the north transept and an almonry to the
north of the north transept. To the west of the almonry and north of the
north aisle is the prior's garden, while to the east of the almonry and
north of the chancel is the beggars' yard where those waiting for alms
would congregate. On the south side of the nave lie the buried remains of
the cloister with a mortuary between it and the south transept. To the
south of the south transept there is a slype and beyond this faint traces
of what has been interpreted as the chapter house. South of the cloister
buried remains of the corner of the monks' refectory were found, while
west of the cloister there are buried remains of the monks' locutory,
guests' locutory and the guests' hall, with the guests' garden lying to
the west of these buildings.

The above ground remains now consist of two late 13th century sandstone piers
at the junction of the north transept and the crossing, together with the
respond of the north arcade and the stump of the north wall of the chancel.
Both piers are cruciform in plan, with broach bases and the remains of
chamfered shafts. The east pier has a small cusped niche or piscina at its
base. On the monument's east and south sides substantial fragments of walling
can be seen; that on the east being premdominantly of sandstone construction,
that on the south a mix of sandstone and brick. The upstanding two piers at
the junction of the north transept and the crossing, with the respond of the
north arcade and the stump of the north wall of the chancel, is a Listed
Building Grade I.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: all timber
huts, all fences, fenceposts, gates and gateposts, all manhole covers and the
concrete bases in which they are set, the timber base for a water trough, all
flowerbeds, steps and railings, a water fountain, all decorative chimney pots
in the garden of Abbey Cottage, all caravans and their hardstandings, all
electricity hook up points, all water tanks and their standings, a gas tank
and its standing, all lamposts, all signposts, an electricity sub station, a
timber building and a toilet block associated with the caravan site, and all
made up surfaces; however, 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.

Despite the absence of much above-ground remains, limited investigation in
the past has shown that substantial below-ground remains of Burscough
Augustinian Priory survive well in the areas to the east and south of
Abbey Farm and Abbey Cottage. These remains include the church, almonry,
cloister, chapter house, refectory, monks' locutory, guests' locutory,
guests' hall, the prior's garden and the guests' garden. It is considered
that further remains of buildings associated with the medieval priory will
survive in those adjoining areas not investigated in the 19th century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Farrer, J, Brownbill, W (eds), The Victoria History of the County of Lancashire: Volume II, (1908), 148-52
Bromley, J, 'Trans Hist Soc Lancs & Cheshire' in Notes on Some Recent Excavations at Burscough Priory, , Vol. 5, (1889), 127-146
DOE, Buildings of Special Hist & Arch Interest,

Source: Historic England

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