Monument record EYE 009 - Eye Priory, Abbey Farm, Priory of St Peter (Med)

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Scheduled Monument - Eye Priory founded by Robert Malet circa 1080, as a Benedictine house dependent on the Abbey of Bernay in Normandy.


Grid reference Centred TM 1540 7411 (274m by 385m) (Centred on)
Map sheet TM17SE


Type and Period (9)

Full Description

Eye Priory founded by Robert Malet circa 1080, as a Benedictine house dependent on the Abbey of Bernay in Normandy. Reckoned as an alienpriory, it was made denizen in 1385 (similar to Thetford Priory). Probably period of prosperity in C15. Dedication St Peter (S1)(S4). Dissolved 1537. Ten monks in priory at time of dissolution. After dissolution granted to Charles, Duke of Suffolk, and became Manor of Eye Hall or Eye Priory Manor. Destruction of structure (flint, Caen, Barnack stone & clunch) very complete, apart from guesthouse (EYE 017), little survives above ground. Within the farmhouse parts of the W range of cloister remain. Excavation in 1926 revealed bases and foundations of parts of N-S transept, piers, triple apsided E end, N & S quire aisles, nave, N refectory, cloister, dormitory undercroft, chapter house, rere dorter drain and water channel, and various monastic buildings. Also 15 inhumations, one of which, located in centre of the S chapel of choir had `a chalice and paten (of pewter) clasped in the fingers'. Dated C13 by BM (in 1926). Plan & dimensions very similar to that of mother church at Bernay. Intepretation is C11 structure based on Bernay with relatively large scale rebuilding and realignment in C12 or later and addition of guesthouse at circa 1600 (S1).
Circa 1968: Med barn destroyed. To N of the structures are two main ranges of fish ponds, the N of which were (in 1903) still water filled, the S partially water filled, partially earthwork (S2).
EADT cutting with photographs of chalice & paten, dated 1955, in Basil Brown archive, gives details. These objects retained by landowner, Miss D E Ridley. She presented them to IPSMG in 1955 after selling Abbey Farm to Mr Oliver West (S3)(R1).
"One other building remained with foundations above ground until end of C19. In 1862, the Rev G F Maclear writes, `Grass almost hides the foundation of the old gatehouse and chapel'. The site of this was to the S of the monastery near the road to the town, and the foundations were levelled a farmer" (S1). `Abbey House' is a tall C17 building faced with red brick, with a timber-framed rear wing that was part of the Prior's lodging (S6). ESA monitoring visit 1988: Church remains in private gardens. Next door field in permanent pasture. Remains of church walls and part of archway visible. Various banks and hollows evident in next door field. Pondsystem neglected, covered with reeds, rushes and tall trees. Evidence of many trees having been blown over in the gale (S7).
ESA monitoring visit 1994: Church remains are in a long-established garden; cloister and refectory are under a newer extension to the garden. Sketch of mortared flint walling visible along the edge of the ditch that surrounds the fishponds, probably representing the north end of the dormitory. Fishponds heavily overgrown with trees and not inspected, though some wet areas are said to survive. Flat plateau to south and east of church in permanent pasture with numerous recently planted trees (S7).
March 2001: Scheduled (S9).
2007: metaldetecting in the south west pasure outside the SAM identified a coin and a seal matrix (S10).

Sources/Archives (15)

  • <R1> Bibliographic reference: Antiquaries Journal. Antiq J, 7, 1927, 299-312.
  • <R1> Museum Record Card: Ipswich Museum. IPSMG card. IPSMG, card 955-97.
  • <M1> Unpublished document: Suffolk Archaeological Service. Parish file. Parish file: copy (S1)(S2).
  • <S1> (No record type): Fairweather F H, Excav on the site of the Priory Church & Monastery of St Peter, Eye, Suffolk, Antiq.
  • <S2> (No record type): OS, map, 1904 ed.
  • <M2> Unpublished document: Basil Brown. Basil Brown Archive. Basil Brown archive: volume.
  • <M3> Scheduling record: English Heritage. Scheduled Ancient Monument file. (S9).
  • <S3> Unpublished document: Basil Brown. Basil Brown Archive. Brown B, V, 39.
  • <S4> (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, Eng & Wales, London, 1971 ed, 54,65.
  • <S5> Bibliographic reference: Victoria County History of Suffolk (Vol I 1911; Vol II 1907). VCH, Suffolk, 2, 1907, 72-76.
  • <S6> (No record type): Paine C & Aitkens P, Eye Priory, PSIA 36 pt 4, 1988, 323-4.
  • <S7> (No record type): Broads ESA file, 30.12.15.
  • <S8> (No record type): Paine C, The History of Eye, 1993, 12-14.
  • <S9> Unpublished document: English Heritage. Scheduling information.
  • <S10> Digital archive: Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. Portable Antiquities Database.

Finds (5)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Record last edited

Mar 15 2013 3:07PM

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