Building record EYE 017 - Eye Priory Guesthouse

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Scheduled Monument - Eye Priory Guesthouse, within Eye Priory complex - EYE 009. Listed Building.


Grid reference Centred TM 1526 7406 (30m by 42m)
Map sheet TM17SE


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

Eye Priory Guesthouse, within Eye Priory complex - EYE 009. A rectangular brick building originally about 12 x 40 yds, now only 25 yds long but an off set plinth on the W side shows the original length. Doorway and windows have 4 centred arches of C15. The 1st floor and roof are modern. Now used as a barn for straw for the adjacent cattle yard. Looks in sound condition. The W wall has a doorway, 4 2-light windows and 3 other openings on the gound floor. 5 single-light windows on the 1st floor. The S wall has 1 2-light window (off centre) and remains of a stone window in the gable. The E wall has been much hacked about; there are now 4 openings on both ground and 1st floors. The N end shows the building has been truncated. The building lies about 100 yds NW of the claustral buildings now incorporated in the house and garden of "Abbey House". Probably the priory guest-house but might have been something to do with lay brothers (S1).

Red-brick building of c.1500, two-storeyed, with fine arched windows and door on the W side and a stone-jambed first floor window indicating a superior chamber behind (S2). West wall appears to abut on an earlier(?) wall of mixed stone and flint at the N end. Adjoining this N end is an C18-C19 brick structure, standing on low flint footings. A short distance further N, the low footings give way to higher and more massive mortared flint foundations tdhat are probably medieval. A photo of the building c.1910 is reproduced in (S3).

ESA monitoring visit 1988: Used as a barn with a lean-to cattle shed to house young stock. Generally poor condition. Foundations and brickwork need repair. Evidence of fire damage on roof beams (S4).

1991: Philip Walker of EH says roof + building in good state of repair, but some brickwork near base needs attention (S5).

ESA monitoring visit 1994: Used for cattle-housing, together with an open- fronted metal lean-to attached to the E side. Upper storey used to store hay. Signs of cracking at the NW corner where the brick skin is moving away from the stone wall behind. Damaged footings at the SW corner. General abrasion to corners and openings by cattle and at S end by inputting hay through broken windows (S4).

March 2001: Included in larger scheduled area for Eye Priory (see EYE 009)(S1)

2008: Design and access statement for proposed barn conversion into one dwelling identified that the buildings are of historical significance and are on the 'Buildings at Risk' register (S11).

2008 Abbey Farm Barn, a Tudor brick building, was part of Eye Priory. It has been interpreted as a chapel, guest-house, noble residence, stable-block or malting-house. Leigh Alston reinterprets the building as a rare monastic brew- and bake-house: the 'Bakhous and Brewe hous' mentioned in 1536. The building is 10.2m/33.5ft wide and a truncated 23.3m/76.5ft long. Details of brickwork, carpentry and windows in the eastern elevation indicate a late-15th/early-16th-century date. However, the prominent western elevation has decorative arched fenestration in a 13th-century style, perhaps intended to reflect the Priory buildings. The interior originally had a low granary or malting loft along most of its length, with an area of 8.5m/28ft by 6.4m/21ft against the southern gable open to the roof, overlooked by projecting galleries. Its walls incorporate niches, drains and recesses, including two unusual fire-backs. An inventory of 1536 lists 'great vats': archaeological evidence of furnaces and ovens may survive. Large, detached dual purpose service buildings were standard on high-status medieval sites but most monastic examples were destroyed after the Dissolution. Three other known examples stand at Lindisfarne, Norwich and Canterbury. Abbey Farm Barn, despite an 18th-century conversion into stabling and a fire in 1900, represents the best-preserved of the four known English survivors. As a building of historic importance, a recommendation is made for grade II* or I listing. There is potential for further study: dendrochronological or luminescence dating may refine the chronology and the building offers a unique opportunity to understand the mechanics of medieval brewing and baking (S6).

April 2008: Archaeological monitoring was carried out on three test holes inside the building. Test hole 3 was set against a modern wall in the middle of the building. The depth of the modern wall was dictated by the remains of an earlier wall. Both Test hole 3 and 4 revealed that the present floor level is the result of an accumulation of soil and dung. A deposit of ash was recorded a depth of 0.28m below the present surface. This is overlain by a layer of clay at 0.38m. This spread of clay and ash seems to be building wide. The ash that overlies the clay is possible from the fire that burnt down the roof in the early 20th century. The clay layer may relate to the floor of the 16th century building, although this is unlikely as it appears neither worn nor compacted and there is no evidence that a surface (such as tiles) has been removed. Test hole 4 was excavated against the inside of the west wall and revealed that bonded coursed brickwork was recorded to a depth of 0.65m. Test hole 5 at the south of the building suggested that this part of the building was function specific and differed to the rest of the barn. However, the archaeology in this hole was impossible to understand beyond it being deep, probably structural and different in character from the rest of the building (S8).

April 2009: Archaeological monitoring was carried out on the unpicking of the west door and adjacent ground floor double light window. The door had been infilled with 15th to 16th century brick, 18th century brick and medieval dressed limestone. The extent of scorching over the wooden lintel suggested that the infilled had occurred after the early 20th century fire. On the inside of the door (north side, bootom) there is an iron peg hinge which is set into a moulding in the joint between two limestone blocks. At the mid height on the internal south edge of the door is set another limestone block in which there is a square hole for the door bolt. A blocked drain was recorded below the door. The window had been blocked prior to the fire with a double row of secondhand bricks lain in stretcher bond. It was well protected from the weather meaning it had a high level of preservation meaning that painted and incised plaster had survived. There were also fittings for wooden shutters and no indication of glazing (S9). See EYE 132 for results of external trenching.

November 2009: A contour survey carried out on the existing ground survey revealed archaeological deposits, believed to be buried footings. These footings were thought to be associated with the building in its function as a brew house and bake house (S7) (Previously incorrectly number EYE 098)

June 2010: The insertion of a new door was monitored. No features relating to the original structure were encountered (S10).

Sources/Archives (14)

  • <R1> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner N & Radcliffe E. 1974. The Buildings of England: Suffolk. Pevsner N, The Buildings of England - Suffolk, 1974, 208.
  • <M1> (No record type): SAM file:.
  • <S1> Unpublished document: Department of the Environment. Scheduling information.
  • <S2> (No record type): Paine C & Aitkens P, Eye Abbey, PSIA 36 pt 4, 1988, 324 & pl XX.
  • <M2> (No record type): Broads ESA file:.
  • <S3> (No record type): Paine C, The History of Eye, 1993, p 14.
  • <S4> (No record type): Broads ESA file, 30.12.15.
  • <S5> (No record type): Suffolk Preservation Society (Paul Edwards) Survey, table of results, 1991.
  • <S6> Unpublished document: Alston, L.. 2008. Archaeological Record: Abbey Farm Barn, Eye, Suffolk.
  • <S7> Unpublished document: Gill, D.. 2009. Archaeological Survey Report: Abbey Hall, Eye Priory, Pre-Development Floor Level Survey, Eye.
  • <S8> Unpublished document: Gill, D.. 2008. Archaeological Monitoring Report: Archaeological monitoring of test holes, Abbey Farm, Eye.
  • <S9> Unpublished document: Gill, D.. 2009. Archaeological Monitoring Report: West Door and Window Unpicking and External Trenching, Abbey Hall Barn, Eye.
  • <S10> Unpublished document: Brooks, R. and Gill, D.. 2010. Archaeological Progress Report: Abbey Hall, Eye.
  • <S11> Unpublished document: Nicholas Jacob Architects. 2008. Design and Access Statement, Barn at Abbey Farm, Eye, Proposed conversion to create One Dwelling..

Finds (3)

Protected Status/Designation

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Related Events/Activities (9)

Record last edited

Apr 16 2018 11:05AM

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