Monument record DUN 003 - Greyfriars Monastery; Franciscan Friary

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Scheduled Monument - Greyfriars monastry (Franciscian Friary).


Grid reference Centred TM 477 703 (208m by 249m)
Map sheet TM47SE


Type and Period (4)

Full Description

Greyfriars Monastery (Franciscan Friary). Founded before 1277 by Richard Fitz John and Alice, his wife, and afterwards by Henry III. There were 20 friars in 1277. The site of the friary was moved inland to the westernedge of town by the gift of the burgesses 1289. The chapel appears to have been rebuilt or repaired circa 1514. Suppressed in 1538 (S1)(S2). Gardner (1754) records that the friary precinct had three gates, but that the eastward one was `quite demolished'. The remains of the buildings had been converted `into a good tenement and a Hall with apartments where affairs of the Corporation are transacted and a jail; having an east front built (of late years) with brick, affording a handsome prospect.' This building can be seen on the prospect drawing of Dunwich on the border of the 1753 map by J Kirby (S3).
The scheduled monument consists of two main elements (S4):
a) The precinct wall and two arched gateways (one large, one small) on the W side. The E wall of the precinct is built over the town ditch to Pales Dyke (see DUN 013). The gateways have late Med four-centred arches and there is some flushwork pannelling above the smaller gate (S5).
b) The upstanding ruins in the centre of the site and across areas adjoining on the N and E sides. The surviving ruin formed the S side of the cloister. The N wall of this ruin has buttresses and windows with four-centred heads in two tiers, the S wall is fragmentary. The ground floor of the structure was the S cloister walk, the upper floor probably contained the refectory (S5). The surviving ruin has been much patched with brick and flint cobbles.
1935-1939: Excavations were carried out to the E of the existing ruin (at TM 4781 7036) which revealed part of another range of buildings. The earliest part of this range included a S facing open-sided corridor that may have been part of another cloister (S6)(S7). For details of flat inscribed brass ring, found in the 18th century, see (S18). It is to be resold at Bonhams, Ipswich in Feb/March 2004.
1981: The precinct wall was reported as being holed in several places, the NW section cracking and leaning outwards despite supporting brick buttresses. Trees leaning over the wall were also causing damage. The gateways were in fairly good condition, with some loss of flints. The cloister range was badly overgrown and masonry had fallen in several places (S4). The site is now owned and managed by Suffolk County Council.
1991: For details of clearing of vegetation etc., prior to conservation work, state of structure and finds etc., see (S8).
1992: For excavation of trench across enclosure wall, see DUN 016.
1986: For BA dissertation by Mark Curteis see (S11).
1994: Archaeological survey by RCHME (S9) and geophysical survey by English Heritage (S10)(S19). Controlled demolition of part of wall by SAU (TAL), extracting re-used moulded stonework.
1997: Three small trenches excavated by SAU - see DUN 023 & 024 (S13).
March 1999: Evaluation excavation. Details in (S15). See DUN 025 [no separate HER entry yet!] (for various proposals, manement plans, concerns from the local community, parish council etc and press cuttings see site archive file).
2009: Archaeological recording works associated with the rebuilding of extant precinct walls and repairs to the Gateways and Refectory (S21).
2011: Time team excavations (by Wessex Archaeology) - see DUN 103 & 104.
2012: Archaeological monitoring of works associated with the rebuilding and consolidation of the extant precinct wall (S20).

Earthworks visible on Lidar. See associated files.

Sources/Archives (23)

  • <S1> (No record type): Knowles, D. & Hadcock, R.N.. 1971. Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales (2nd ed). Knowles D & Hadcock R N, Med Religious Houses, England & Wales, 1971.
  • <M1> (No record type): SAM file:.
  • <R1> Index: OS. OS Card. OS, card TM47SE39, undated (ill card only).
  • <S2> Bibliographic reference: Victoria County History of Suffolk (Vol I 1911; Vol II 1907). VCH, Suffolk, 2, 1907.
  • <M2> Unpublished document: Suffolk Archaeological Service. Parish file. Parish file: excavation report as (S7-S15).
  • <S3> (No record type): Gardner T, Historical Account of Dunwich, 1754, 60 + map.
  • <S4> Unpublished document: Department of the Environment. Scheduling information.
  • <S5> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner N & Radcliffe E. 1974. The Buildings of England: Suffolk. 192.
  • <S6> (No record type): Norris N E S, `1st (& 2nd) report on excavations at Grey Friars Monastery, Dunwich, July 1935 (& Aug.
  • <S7> (No record type): Norris N E S, `3rd report on excavation at Grey Friars Monastery, Dunwich, 1937-1939, PSIA, 23, 1939.
  • <S8> (No record type): SAU (Newman J), site report, DUN 003, March 1991, slides.
  • <S9> Unpublished document: Royal Commission of Historic Monuments for England. 1994. An Archaeological Survey - Dunwich Greyfriars.
  • <S10> Unpublished document: English Heritage. English Heritage, letter (& plots) to SAU (EM), May 1994, ill.
  • <S11> Bibliographic reference: Miscellaneous Bibliographic reference. Curteis M, Greyfriars Dunwich: A Study of a Franciscan Friary, BA dis, Univ of Durham, 1986, ill.
  • <S12> Unpublished document: Suffolk County Council Archaeologcial Service. Various. SAU, SCCAS Report, 96/78, 1996.
  • <S13> Unpublished document: Boulter, S.. 1997. Results of a Preliminary Programme of Archaeological Works - Dunwich Greyfriars. SAU, Boulter S, SCCAS Report , 97/42, 1997, ill.
  • <S14> Unpublished document: Loader, T.. 1998. Project Design for an Archaeological Evaluation - Dunwich Greyfriars.
  • <S16> Photograph: Air Photographs. NAU, TM 4770/JFV 10, July 1992.
  • <S17> Photograph: Air Photographs. NAU, TM 4770/JFT 3, July 1992.
  • <S18> Bibliographic reference: Miscellaneous Bibliographic reference. Blatchly J, 'An Inscribed Brass Annulus from Dunwich Greyfriars', pub uknown,, 2003(?), ill.
  • <S19> Unpublished document: English Heritage. Linford P K "Geographical Survey".
  • <S20> Unpublished document: Boulter S. 2012. Archaeological Monitoring Report, Dunwich Greyfriars, Precinct Wall, Dunwich.
  • <S21> Unpublished document: Boulter S & Everett L. 2009. Dunwich Greyfriars: DUN 092 & 094, Archaeological Recording Works Associated with the Rebuilding of a section of the Precinct Wall and Repairs to the Gateways and Recectory.

Finds (4)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (10)

Record last edited

Nov 7 2022 1:00PM

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