HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Historic England research records Result
Historic England research recordsPrintable version | About Historic England research records

Historic England Research Records

Halesowen Abbey

Hob Uid: 118637
Location :
Dudley
Dudley
Halesowen
Grid Ref : SO9772482789
Summary : The remains of Halesowen Abbey. King John gave the manor of Hales to Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester in 1214, and in 1218 the site was colonised by canons from the existing Premonstratensian house at Welbeck in Nottinghamshire. The order followed an austere and secluded life and became known as 'white canons' due to the wearing of undyed habits. In 1536, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, the abbey and its possessions passed to the crown, and two years later the monastic buildings were partly demolished. The site of the abbey was granted by Henry VIII to Sir John Dudley who passed the site to his servant George Tuckey. There are some standing remains of the abbey buildings and others have been incorporated into the walls of farm buildings belonging to Manor Abbey Farm. The north barn of the farm dates to 1672 or shortly after, and the rest of the farm is of a 19th century date.The monastic buildings are situated within a rectangular precinct, which was originally defined by fish-ponds to the north, south, south-west, and by a water-filled moat. The precinct measured an area of 170 by 100 metres. The monastic church, built of local sandstone, is sited in the north part of the inner precinct and its standing remains are thought to be of early 13th century date. A range of agricultural buildings overlie the south wall of the church and north part of the cloister. The 17th century north barn follows the same alignment as the church and has been partly built from reused medieval masonry and timbers. Excavations have further shown that the barn incorporates standing remains of the monastic church. Belonging to the south range of the cloister, are the standing remains of the south wall of the frater and its undercroft. To the south east of the church is a two-storeyed building which was constructed in the second half of the 13th century. This may have been the abbot's lodging or infirmary. This site is in the care of English Heritage.
More information : (Name: SO 974828) Remains of (NAT) St Mary's Abbey (NR) (Premonstratensian Canons) (NAT) (Name: SO 977829) Fishponds (NR). (1)

An abbey of Premonstratensian Canons founded in 1215 and a convent founded in 1218. They were dissolved in 1538. (2)

Little remains of the Premonstratensian Abbey of Halesowen dedicated to the Virgin and St John the Evangelist. The arrangement of the original buildings is now somewhat conjectural, only fragments of the church, part of the S wall of the frater and a small building now used as a barn SE of the claustral block, probably the abbots' lodging, are still standing.
(3-4)

In 1938 road widening in Manor Lane (probably at SO 97488309) revealed part of the back wall of the Abbey Gate House and a cobbled road to the abbey itself 33 ft in length and 7 ft wide, both of which were preserved. A plan of the abbey drawn by J R Holliday in 1871 which supplements that in the VCH is in Birmingham Reference Library. (5)

An appraisal of the abbey earthworks confirms at least six fishponds to the north and at least two to the south with possibly another on the site of the cycle track. An outer precinct bank, possibly made when a crenellation license was obtained in 1293, may be seen in the prominent double ditch to the south, and substantial dams across the valleys with a hedge line to west and north, probably continuing to the site of the abbey gate house. (6-7)

St Mary's Abbey. Grade 1. (Detailed list of remains).

Remains of the Abbey buildings are as described above and are in the care of the DOE. They are largely incorporated into the walls of farm buildings belonging to Manor Abbey Farm. The site is upon a low, flat-topped spur between two streams to north and south flowing into a larger stream west of the site.

The Abbey buildings were contained within a water-filled moat of which the east arm and traces of the north arm remain. The course of the west arm can be followed as a faint depression. The area thus enclosed measured 170.0m east-west by 100.0m north-south. The east arm is 9.0m in width. The south side is bounded by steep, natural slopes. In the valley to the north are four large fishponds. There is evidence that the ponds were at first small and were later enlarged either by heightening and extending, or by rebuilding the bays. The second bay east of the modern road to the farm is nowhere more than 1.0m in height whereas those above and below are 2.0 to 2.6m high and extend the full width of the valley. The bay carrying the road is 4.8m high and there may have been a fifth pond below it but this, and possibly a sixth to the west of the Abbey, have been destroyed by construction of a cycle track. In the valley to the south are two further pondbays. The lower one 1.5m high, with a large overspill channel with retaining bank leading towards the Abbey building, was probably for domestic uses.

The upper bay, 1.6m high, retained a supply pond of some considerable extent. Water was led via a leet from the southern end of the bay into two parallel channels which in turn probably fed two water mills at the western end. Beyond is a deep pit probably scoured out by falling water, and a further channel leading to the stream. The leet and parallel channels are 10.0 to 12.0m in width and in depth, respectively, average 1.0m and 2.0m.

Directly opposite, on the west bank of the stream, a shallow ditch, later accompanied by an inner bank, crosses the slopes till cut and destroyed by the course of a disused railway line. This, together with the leat and supply pond bay, possibly represents the southern limits of the Abbey. To the north west of the watermill site is a windmill mound, a turf-covered mound, 13.0m in diameter, 0.6m in height, with a drainage channel round the north east side. To the north and east is an area of ridge and furrow, bounded by low earthen banks on the north and west. The whole site is under pasture. There are now no visible remains of the 1938 excavation mentioned in source 5. (8)

1:2500 MSD revised. (9)

Detailed survey of the only roofed building forming part of Halesowen Abbey c50m E of the main claustral complex. Four phases of construction and alteration recognised. Phase I- the main period of construction and includes the crown post roof 1290-1300. Phases II-IV all relate to the post-dissolution period. This building probably functioned as part of the Abbot's Lodging, which, after the Dissolution, functioned as a barn. (10)

Note on foundations recorded on the supposed site of the Abbey Guest House. A re-appraisal of the earthworks surrounding the Abbey confirmed the existence of a flight of at least six fish-ponds and possibly another to the W. Later alterations to the precinct boundary recognised, possibly relating to the licence to crenellate the guesthouse in 1293. (11)

SO 976 828. Listed in schedule as "Halesowen Abbey, fishponds and precinct earthworks". (12)

2 decorated and 2 plain floor-tile fragments found 1928. These are now in Birmingham Museum collection. (13)

SO 976 828. Noted in gazetteer. (14)

Noted in paper on moated sites in Worcestershire, with plan of earthworks and Abbey buildings. (15)

Noted in paper on Worcestershire fishponds, with same plan as in source 15. (16)

Halesowen Abbey was founded in 1215 by Peter des Roche and was colonised by canons from the existing Premonstratensian house at Welbeck in Nottinghamshire. In 1536 the abbey and all its possessions were surrendered to the Crown and two years later the monastic buildings were partly demolished. The site of the abbey was granted by Henry VIII to Sir John Dudley who passed the site to his servant George Tuckey.

The main abbey buildings lie among the agricultural buildings and the farmhouse of Manor Farm. The conventual buildings are situated within a rectangular enclosure or precinct, which was originally defined by man-made pools of water to the north, south and south west and by water-filled ditches cutting across the spur on the west and east sides. The precinct thus enclosed measures approximately 170m east-west and 100m north-south. Access into the inner precinct is thought to have been via a causeway from the north.
The monastic church, built of local red sandstone, is sited in the north part of the inner precinct. A range of agricultural buildings, associated with Manor Farm, overlie the south wall of the church and the north part of the cloister. The north barn follows the same alignment as the church. It has been partly built from reused medieval masonry and timbers and is thought to be mostly of 17th century date. However excavations at the site during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and field evidence indicate that this barn incorporates standing fragments of the abbey. To the south east of the church is a two-storey rectangular stone building originally constructed during the second half of the 13th century. This may have been the abbot's lodging.

Cartographic evidence indicates that the fields to the north and west of the monastic church, within the moated enclosure, were known respectively as Lower and Upper Churchyard indicating that these areas were used as the monastic cemetery.
The conventual buildings in the precinct were originally set within a larger system of water control features. Immediately to the north and north east of the precinct are the earthwork remains of a series of large ponds, of which at least five have been identified. A bypass leat, or overflow channel, is visible running parallel to the south side of the ponds and it forms the north boundary to the inner precinct. Earthwork evidence indicates that the ponds were connected to this channel and to each adjacent pond by sluices.
The valley to the south of the conventual buildings has been dammed in three places to create ponds. The proximity of the central pond to the conventual buildings suggests that the pond had a domestic use and a sluice within its retaining bank is thought to have provided a water supply for the latrines, situated in the south range of the cloister. Near the precinct are the remains of levelled platforms which are thought to be the remains of former watermill sites. These are considered to be the site of a number of mills associated with the monastery.

For a full description including the various standing remains please refer to the source. (17)

The abbey was founded in 1215 for the Premonstratensian order and the remains are mainly 13th century. The north wall of the barn incorporates part of the south aisle of the church with two claustral doorways. The remains include: fragments of the south transept with two lancet windows, sections of the south transeptual chapel and north wall of chancel, a substantial section of refectory wall with 4 lancets and undercroft, foundations of the chapter house and the shell of a 13th century building, probably the Abbatial House. (18)

The abbey of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St John the Evangelist was founded by the Bishop of Winchester Peter des Roches after he was granted the manor by King John in 1214. The canons arrived from Welbeck in 1218 and there were 13 canons at the abbey but the number may have later increased. (19)

The remains of an abbey founded by King John in the 13th century. (20)

A number of surveys and investigations have been carried out by English Heritage between 2005 and 2008, including earthwork survey, tree ring dating and archaeological investigation, of various different elements of the abbey. (21-23)

The site is in the care of English Heritage. The image depicted on page 90 is the Abbot's Lodging/infirmary, not the north barn as labelled. (24), An earthwork survey was undertaken during 2005 at Halesowen Abbey and its environs. The survey was carried out at a scale of 1:1000. Features that were recorded include a flight of ponds, seperated by dams, along the northern valley. In the valley to the south there were further ponds which, although similar morphologically, had additional features such as leats and ramps, suggesting a different, possibly inductrial function. In the field to the south of the southern valley there are extensive tracts of slight ridge-and-furrow. This has been cut by a quarry ditch, possibly for the extraction of coal. Other features in the field include a proinant boundary bank, which is probably part of the precinct boundary or a later park boundary (or both). Also, there is a rectilinear enclosure, overlain by the ridge-and-furrow, and a windmill mound. Beyond this field there is a pillow mound. Further details are contained in the written report. (20)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1955
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Medieval religious houses : England and Wales
Source details :
Page(s) : 166
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details : DM Wilson and S Moorhouse
Page(s) : 141
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 15, 1971
Source Number : 12
Source : County list of Scheduled Ancient Monuments : December 1987
Source details : West Midlands
Page(s) : 5
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : Worcestershire archaeology and local history newsletter
Source details :
Page(s) : 2
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 14, 1974
Source Number : 14
Source : Worcestershire archaeology and local history newsletter
Source details : CJ Bond
Page(s) : 18
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 12, 1973
Source Number : 15
Source : Medieval moated sites
Source details :
Page(s) : 75, 77
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : no.17
Source Number : 16
Source : Medieval fish, fisheries and fishponds in England
Source details :
Page(s) : 433-4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 182 (i-ii)
Source Number : 17
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 08-Feb-95
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Dudley, 11-JUN-1976
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 727
Source Number : 19
Source : Medieval religious houses in England and Wales
Source details :
Page(s) : 189
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 20
Source : English Heritage Visitor Handbook 2009/10
Source details :
Page(s) : 180
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Worcester: volume two
Source details :
Page(s) : 162
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 21
Source : Research Department Report Series
Source details : 'Barn at Manor Farm, Halesowen Abbey, West Midlands: investigation of the remains of the south aisle and cloister of the Abbey church', by B V Jones, 2006
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 64/2006
Source Number : 22
Source : Research Department Report Series
Source details : 'Halesowen Abbey, Dudley, West Midlands: tree-ring analysis of further timbers', by A Arnold & R Howard, 2008
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 23
Source : Halesowen Abbey and its environs
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 19/2005
Source Number : 24
Source : Heritage Unlocked: Guide to free sites in the Midlands
Source details :
Page(s) : 90-1
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Worcester: volume three
Source details :
Page(s) : 137-9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Transactions of the Worcestershire Archaeological Society
Source details : F Somers
Page(s) : 82-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 15, 1938
Source Number : 6
Source : Worcestershire archaeology and local history newsletter
Source details : CJ Bond
Page(s) : 11
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 6, 1970
Source Number : 7
Source : Council for British Archaeology Group 8: West Midlands newsletter
Source details : CJ Bond
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 13, 1970
Source Number : 8
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Halesowen RD, 1948
Page(s) : 5
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 ASP 19-JAN-76
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Transactions of the Worcestershire Archaeological Society
Source details : 'A late 13th century building at Halesowen Abbey', by NAD Molyneaux
Page(s) : 45-53
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 9, 1984

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built in 13th C after 1215
Monument End Date : 1300
Monument Start Date : 1215
Monument Type : Refectory, Undercroft, Monastic Precinct, Ditch, Church
Evidence : Ruined Building, Earthwork, Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Founded in 1215
Monument End Date : 1215
Monument Start Date : 1215
Monument Type : Premonstratensian Monastery, Abbey
Evidence : Ruined Building, Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built 1215-1540
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1215
Monument Type : Fishpond
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Second half C13
Monument End Date : 1300
Monument Start Date : 1250
Monument Type : Monastic Dwelling
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Built 1672
Monument End Date : 1672
Monument Start Date : 1672
Monument Type : Barn
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Built 19th C
Monument End Date : 1900
Monument Start Date : 1801
Monument Type : Farm
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Dissolved in 1536
Monument End Date : 1536
Monument Start Date : 1536
Monument Type : Premonstratensian Monastery, Abbey
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Partly demolished 1538
Monument End Date : 1538
Monument Start Date : 1538
Monument Type : Abbey, Premonstratensian Monastery
Evidence : Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (West Midlands)
External Cross Reference Number : 873
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : WM 2
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 21568
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : WT 2
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 359823
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 342
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SO 98 SE 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 118568
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 329232
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1303664
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1525010
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1525026
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : ST MARY'S ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1899-01-01
End Date : 1899-12-31
Associated Activities : ST MARY'S ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1938-01-01
End Date : 1938-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SO 98 SE 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1976-01-19
End Date : 1976-01-19
Associated Activities : ST MARY'S ABBEY
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : HALESOWEN ABBEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : MANOR FARM, HALESOWEN ABBEY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : MANOR FARM, HALESOWEN ABBEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT HALESOWEN ABBEY
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : HALESOWEN ABBEY BARN
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31