Site Event/Activity record ESF20015 - Leiston Old Abbey Chapel, Building Recording

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Location LCS 002, Leiston Old Abbey
Grid reference Centred TM 4732 6598 (17m by 12m)
Map sheet TM46NE



Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service


Not recorded.



As part of a grant aided programme of consolidation works to the building known as Minsmere Chapel, English Heritage required archaeological recording and interpretation to be undertaken. The site that lies within the coastal marshes now occupied by a RSPB bird reserve was that of the first Leiston Abbey built by Ralph de Glanville in about 1182 with a dedication to St. Mary de Insula. Due to increasing inundation by the sea, in 1363 a new abbey complex was built by Robert de Ufford the a site further in land. Documentary evidence suggests that a presence was maintained at the old site until the dissolution and the building on the site is the only surviving evidence of this. Aerial photographs and geophysical survey suggest that the building was constructed within the body of the original abbey church that itself lay immediately south of a cloister. Three main phases of construction were recognised. The first, represented by the lower sections of the standing walls, had evidence surviving for three contemporary windows, a doorway and an enigmatic internal niche. This initial phase was thought to date to soon after the abandonment of the abbey in 1363. The second phase was represented by the upper sections of the wall with their characteristic use of brick and evidence two additional windows and the blocking of the Phase II windows. This phase has tentatively been associated with John Green who when he retired as Abbot of the abbey at the new site in 1527 lived out his years as a hermit at the chapel. The third phase involved the insertion of a World War II pillbox into the eastern end of the structure and utilised the existing architectural openings. Project status: Complete Yes, Validated Yes Previous/Future Work: Previous No, Future Not known Associated Identifiers: NMR No. 1517015 Project Type: Building Recording Methods and Techniques: Photographic Survey, Survey/Recording Of Fabric/Structure Reason for Investigation: Grant application (eg. management plan) Site status: Scheduled Monument (SM) Current Land use: Grassland Heathland 5 - Character undetermined Monument Type(s)/Period(s): CHAPEL Medieval , PILLBOX Modern Artefact Type(s)/Period(s): NONE None PROJECT LOCATION Area 100.00 Square metres Grid Reference: TM47326598 Point Height 5.00 - 5.00 metres PROJECT CREATOR(S) Brief originator: English Heritage Design originator: R Carr Director/Manager: Stuart Boulter Supervisor: Stuart Boulter DIGITAL ARCHIVE Recipient: Suffolk County SMR ID: LCS 002 Contents: Survey Media: Database, Images raster / digital photography, Survey, Text PAPER ARCHIVE Recipient: Suffolk County SMR ID: LCS 002 Contents: Survey Media: Context sheet, Correspondence, Drawing, Photograph, Plan, Report, Survey BIBLIOGRAPHY Publication Type: Grey literature (unpublished document/manuscript) Title: Leiston Old Abbey Chapel (LCS 002); Building Recording and Excavation Author(s)/Editor(s): Boulter, S. P. Other Bibliographic Details: SCCAS Rpt. No. 2008/90 Date: 2008 Issuer/Publisher: Suffolk County Council Place of Issue or Publication: Ipswich Description: Unbound A4 sheets

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Unpublished document: Boulter, S.. 2008. Building Recording report. Leiston Old Abbey Chapel (LCS 002), Leiston.

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

  • Site of first Leiston Abbey (Monument)
  • World War II pillbox within a medieval Abbey chapel (Monument)

Record last edited

Nov 23 2012 5:10PM

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