Monument record BSE 290 - Medieval Cellar and 18th century workhouse foundations, 57-59 College Street; Jesus College

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Evaluation and excavation identified a high-status medieval cellar with flint and mortar walls, possibly relating to Jesus College, and the brick foundations of the former 19th workhouse.


Grid reference Centred TL 8540 6397 (21m by 18m)
Map sheet TL86SE


Type and Period (3)

Full Description

2007: An archaeological evaluation at 57-59 College Street identified the remains of a cellar with flint and mortar walls. The cellar had been infilled and a small trench exposed brick fragments that were medieval in date. It is uncertain how rare stone lined cellars were within the medieval town but it seems reasonable to suggest that this was from a high status building and may be related to Jesus College [though foundation for this is 15th century], which was dissolved during the Reformation. A flint surface with a mortar spread may have been contemporary. A sequence of brick foundations are thought to be the remains of the former workhouse which was sold in 1884 (S1).

2012: Excavations in advance of a house development on land between 57 and 59 College Street have identified a large medieval cellar that is dated from its flint-coursed walls to the Norman period. The medieval cellar was built with substantial well built flint walls which were finished with limestone dressing around the constructed openings. Its original depth was well over 2m and it was provided with a clay floor; a corridor appeared to descend into it from the west of the site. The foundations of a stone buttress are evidence of the stone building above the corridor. The cellar spanned c. 4.55m (15ft) and its width remains uncertain but was in excess of c.3.3m (11ft). The corridor was between 5ft to 6ft wide and ran estward towards Whiting Street for 17ft before continuing beyond the excavation. The cellar was set back from the street front and the remnants of a medieval yard surface survived made of stone and chalk. The north wall of the cellar was demolished in the 16th to 17th centuries and a wider cellar added made of flint and brick. This is likely to be contemporary with a series of gable ended buildings of (early?) 17th century date that were later converted into a workhouse by the local authority in 1748, which survived as footings in the excavation (S2).
The early cellar is probably part of the College of Jesus founded in the 13th century to supply priests for the celebration of mass within the Abbey chantries and the charnal house that were shut down in 1549. This is identified as the site of ‘the College’ on Thomas Warren’s map of 1776; however, he also refers to the ‘College of Jesus’ on the opposite side of the street. From this we can suggest that there was more than one large building of stone associated with the site of the College and that these appeared on either side of College Street (S2).
For further entries relating to Jesus College see BSE 101 and BSE 323.

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Tester, A. and Breen, A.. 2007. A Report on the Archaeological Evaluation, 57-59 College St, Bury St Edmunds BSE 290. Tester (with Breen A), 2007/142, ill.
  • <S2> Unpublished document: Tester, A.. 2013. Excavation Report, 57-59 College Street, Bury St Edmunds.

Finds (14)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Jul 30 2018 10:54AM

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