Farmstead record LRM 030 - Farmstead: Abbey Farm

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Summary

Abbey Farm is a farmstead visible on the 1st Ed Os map. The farmstead is laid out in a linear plan additional detached elements. The farmstead sits alongside a private track alongside a church and abbey. This farmstead survives intact with additional modern infrastructure on site.

Location

Grid reference Centred TM 2688 5857 (67m by 85m)
Map sheet TM25NE
Civil Parish LETHERINGHAM, SUFFOLK COASTAL, SUFFOLK

Map

Type and Period (7)

Full Description

Abbey Farm is a farmstead visible on the 1st Ed Os map. The farmstead is laid out in a linear plan additional detached elements. The farmstead sits alongside a private track alongside a church and abbey. This farmstead survives intact with additional modern infrastructure on site.

Recorded as part of the Farmsteads in the Suffolk Countryside Project. This is a purely desk-based study and no site visits were undertaken. These records are not intended to be a definitive assessment of these buildings. Dating reflects their presence at a point in time on historic maps and there is potential for earlier origins to buildings and farmsteads. This project highlights a potential need for a more in depth field study of farmstead to gather more specific age data.

Abbey Farm lies immediately south-east of St Mary’s church in the north-western corner of Letheringham parish but both it and the church are now in Hoo for postal purposes. The site is among the most picturesque and historically important in Suffolk, having been occupied in the Middle Ages by a small priory and from circa 1610 by one the finest Jacobean mansions in the county – built by a Secretary of State to James I. Unfortunately neither of these structures survives, but the remaining farm buildings offer important clues about their quality and layout. They include a grade II-listed former stable adjoining the church yard, an important late-medieval aisled threshing barn with archaic features such as passing braces and lap joints, and a 17th century threshing barn with mid-rails and high-quality framing. These buildings formed a linear range flanking the entrance to the remains of the mansion when depicted on the tithe map in 1842. The aisled barn almost certainly belonged to the priory and adjoins the boundary of the Scheduled Ancient Monument that marks its former site to the north of the church. Barns of this type are notoriously rare, particularly in this part of Suffolk, and given its monastic association it is likely to meet Historic England’s criteria for listing despite the loss of its original roof structure. The later barn and stable were built to flank the new approach to Sir Robert Naunton’s mansion, and were probably reflected by other service buildings immediately opposite. The stable is an enigmatic building that has been wrongly interpreted both as a 17th century stable and as the almshouse for seven poor women mentioned in Sir Robert’s will of 1635. In fact a row of seven almshouses survives in Letheringham Street 750 m to the south-east, although their identity appears not to have been recognised hitherto. The stable contains evidence of a large original chimney or oven with a large storage area on one side and an open hall on the other, and it represents an historically important brew-house and bake-house of a type found on similar high-status sites elsewhere. Remarkably the single-storied brick building appears to have possessed a timber-framed upper storey initially that was entirely removed when it was converted into a stable while retaining the original roof structure. The roof-plates and rafters were lowered onto the brickwork with only the fine array of wind braces omitted. The remaining farm buildings
nclude a mid-19th century open-ended cart shed of a type more common in Essex than Suffolk, and series of late Victorian pantiled shelter-sheds (S5).

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Campbell, G., and McSorley, G. 2019. SCCAS: Farmsteads in the Suffolk Countryside Project.
  • <S2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1880s. Ordnance Survey 25 inch to 1 mile map, 1st edition.
  • <S3> Map: Ordnance Survey. c 1904. Ordnance Survey 25 inch to 1 mile map, 2nd edition. 25".
  • <S4> Vertical Aerial Photograph: various. Google Earth.
  • <S5> Unpublished document: Alston, L.. 2018. Heritage Asset Assessment - Farm Buildings at Abbey Farm, Hoo.

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Protected Status/Designation

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Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Oct 10 2022 2:56PM

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