Monument record LRM 002 - Letheringham Priory (Med)

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Letheringham Priory: Small priory of Augustinian (Austin) canons, dedicated to Blessed Virgin Mary, founded in late C12 (S1)(S2), perhaps circa 1194 (S3) by William de Bovile, lord of the manor of Letheringham. Scheduled


Grid reference Centred TM 268 585 (466m by 389m) Centred on
Map sheet TM25NE


Type and Period (4)

Full Description

Letheringham Priory: Small priory of Augustinian (Austin) canons, dedicated to Blessed Virgin Mary, founded in late C12 (S1)(S2), perhaps circa 1194 (S3) by William de Bovile, lord of the manor of Letheringham. It was a dependent cell of St Peter & Paul's Priory, Ipswich, served by 3 or 4 canons and a prior. Suppressed 7 February 1536-7, site granted to Anthony Wingfield 20 October 1539. Abbey buildings converted into a house for Wingfield's son-in-law, William Naunton. This was burnt down circa 1610 and a new house was built on a new site (see PMed).
N Fairfax, 1690, described the `abbey' as having stood close to the N side of the church, with a door into it by the tower and another `2 doors upstairs into ye chancel'. By 1690 no remains of the priory were left, beside the foundation of a cellar, the gatehouse and a heap of stone, mortar and rubbish by the tower. The area of the priory buildings was then under plough, with `stones and brickbatts' visible (S3). The church (St Mary's) suffered badly from neglect and in 1789 the whole chancel was pulled down and nave extensively rebuilt. Saga of neglect chronicled in (S3). Church now consists of a C15 W tower, a C12 nave with a contemporary S door. Gabled brick porch dated 1685.
1977: The area scheduled is a strip of ground along the N side of the church and churchyard thought to contain the claustral buildings; this area is known from trial digging to contain archaeological features. Also a brick gatehouse at its NW end and a length of brick walling leading N from the gatehouse (S4).
A late monastic brick gatehouse (of style of Rye Priory guesthouse) of two storeys with tiled roof. First floor has fireplaces over N arch with windows either side and a larger window of 3 lights over the S arch. Good condition, but floor has gone and windows are blocked. Possible remains of painted plaster on first floor walls inside. Now a donkey shed. Seems to have led into the outer curia of the priory.
N arch blocked with similar brickwork to windows. Painted plaster remains inside. The more exposed parts of both brickwork and mortar are eroding. The NW buttress, especially, is in need of repair. Remainder of scheduled area is pasture. Field SW of gatehouse and churchyard (outside scheduled area) seems to have formed part of the priory; it not only has the irregularities of earthworks or foundations, but is surrounded by a much repaired brick wall, the oldest part of which appears to be of the same brickwork as the gatehouse (S4). There is a framed plan of the priory site by P G M & I M P Dickinson, in the church porch.
1975: Wall & pottery found at TM 2685 5860. Files stolen. Possibly same as 3 tile & 8 LMed pot sherds plus 1 bone and 1 iron fragment and 1 lead strip (from window?) from the late Gwen Dyke collection, labelled `Letheringham Priory, GR TM 268588' (incorrect?)(S9). July 1987: Flint and mortar footings seen in fence and gate posts near the edge of the field at TM 2705 5858. Possibly part of a perimeter wall to the priory (S5).
1981: Gatehouse - exterior of brickwork in reasonable condition. Brickwork on 2 buttresses needs repointing. Ivy beginning to cover NE buttress. Roof good. Painted plaster still visible inside. Field to W of scheduled area appears to contain earthworks (S4).1991: Said to be falling and at risk. Gatehouse being used as goatshed. Piles of old bricks on palettessurrounding monument, some evidence of rebuilding going on, has been re- roofed recently. Walls falling down (S8). August 1996: Scheduled area revised - see (S4)
Tithe Map field names of Dovecote Meadow (Letheringham) and Dovehouse Meadow (Hoo parish) suggest complex includes dovehouse.

Sources/Archives (13)

  • <R1> Index: OS. OS Card. OS, card TM25NE7.
  • <S1> Bibliographic reference: Victoria County History of Suffolk (Vol I 1911; Vol II 1907). VCH, Suffolk, II, 1907, 108.
  • <M1> Unpublished document: Suffolk Archaeological Service. Parish file. Parish file: LB note on gatehouse, plan of church.
  • <S2> (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 of Eng & Wales, 1971, 141 & 164.
  • <M2> Photograph: CUCAP. CUCAP aerial photograph. APs: SAU AGG 06; CUCAP OF 34.
  • <S3> (No record type): Blatchly J, `The lost & mutilated memorials of the Bovile & Wingfied families at Letheringham, PSIA .
  • <M3> (No record type): SAM file:.
  • <S4> Unpublished document: DOE scheduling information.
  • <S5> (No record type): Dyke Miss G, August 1987.
  • <S6> Photograph: CUCAP. CUCAP aerial photograph. CUCAP, AP OF 34, 1954.
  • <S7> (No record type): SAU, AP AGG 06.
  • <S8> Unpublished document: Suffolk Preservation Society. 1991. Suffolk Preservation Society Survey. Suff Pres Soc Survey, 1991.
  • <S9> (No record type): Dyke G, finds label/s, undated.

Finds (3)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Apr 21 2022 1:48PM

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