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St Benets Abbey

Hob Uid: 133454
Location :
Norfolk
North Norfolk
Horning
Grid Ref : TG3830015600
Summary : The earliest monastery was founded here by Suneman circa 800, but destroyed by the Danes in 870. It was refounded by Wulfric in 960, and reformed to the Benedictine rule in 1019 as an abbey. The abbey was not dissolved but given to William Reppes, Bishop of Norwich in 1540 (also known as Rugge or Repps) who stripped it and expelled the monks. Most features are visible as foundations and earthworks, and a survey was undertaken by RCHME in October 1994. Positions of west tower, nave, transept, aisled chancel and chapter house identifiable from surviving fragments. Side buttresses and plinth courses with knappedflushwork. Listed and Scheduled.
More information : (TG 38321563) Remains of St Benet's Abbey (NR)
(Benedictine Founded 1020). (TG 37801600) Causeway (NR).
(TG 38021578) Abbey Gate (NR) (Remains of). (1)

Abbey of St. Benet of Hulme. Saxon monks led by Suneman founded a small monastery with a chapel of St Benedict circa 800 which was destroyed by the Danes in 870. Wulfric founded a community and rebuilt the chapel and houses circa 960. King Cnut founded the Benedictine Abbey in 1019. The abbey was the only religious house not actually supressed by Henry VIII, but the monks had probably left by 1539. (2)

Listed. For the designation record of this site please see The National Heritage List for England (3 & 11)
Remains consist of the Great Gatehouse, C14th with remains of a late C18th brick windmill on it (3), extensive foundations of the church and conventual buildings, C12th and later (4), a fragment of the precinct wall and the bank and ditch marking the remainder of its course. Considerable earthworks, fishponds and steadings, cover most of the interior, particularly just east of the Gatehouse (5), and the causeway approach from the NW (published by OS and very evident on the air photographs).

The enclosed area is given by Rudd as 86 acres and in 1602 it was said that there were 2000 yards of wall (4); but the actual area (as shown on OS 6" and the air photographs) is about 43 acres and the actual length of the enceinte is about 1250 yards (discounting the river-side) and there is nothing on the air photographs to suggest that the extent was ever any greater.

Camden records the tradition that the Abbey was so strongly fortified in Norman times that it looked more like a castle than a cloister (4). (3-5)

This extensive sub-triangular site of almost 40 acres is situated on a naturally elevated area and is bounded by a wet ditch on its north and east perimeter and on its south west side by the River Bure. The principal building remains are the ruined gatehouse with its early C19th brick tower mill, the north side of the nave, a fallen stretch of the south nave wall and part of the north aisle. Fragmentary foundation remains of the chapter house and south aisle can also be seen. Ranged along the river bank were more buildings and the foundations of these survive, some under grass and some exposed by river bank erosion.

The principal fishpond complex is to the east of the gatehouse while other isolated ponds lie in the east and south corners of the abbey grounds. All the ponds are dry or nearly so. Access to the site was gained by two causewayed roads; that from the north is still in use whilst the approach from the west, between the River Ant and the Gatehouse, can be clearly seen crossing a pasture field.

See photographs. Resurveyed at 1:2500. (6)

In October 1994, following a request from English Heritage, RCHME's Cambridge Office carried out an analytical earthwork survey of the Abbey precinct and architectural surveys of the surviving remnants of the church and the gatehouse. A photographic archive was also established (negs. BB94/21248-21283).

The Abbey was the only religious house in England not to be dissolved by Henry VIII; it was granted to William Reppes, Bishop of Norwich, who stripped most of the buildings and effectively forced the last monk to leave c.1540 (7a). In the 1620s, a barn, and various other structures including houses survived, and an etching of 1728 shows that much of the upper floor of the gatehouse was still intact at that date (7b). The surviving fragment of the precinct wall appears to be a later addition and the relatively poor quality of the flintwork may indicate a 17th century date, perhaps contemporary with Ludham Hall (TG 31 NE 2).

The earthworks and building remains are generally as described by previous sources. The main causeway to the Hospital of St James (133460), mentioned by Source 6, is recorded as TG 31 NE 17. The natural rise on which the church is located has been modified into a more regular form. The cloister garth can be identified as an earthwork, as can a number of grave mounds. The precinct is divided into a series of enclosures, many with their own associated buildings (visible either as foundations or as earthworks) and ponds. An inn called The Chequers or St Benet's house, demolished between 1884 and 1907, certainly occupied the site of a monastic building and may have incorporated all or part of the Medieval hospice, if a description of 1880 applies to this building (7c). A dock survives as an earthwork adjacent to the gatehouse, and the flint wall of a possible wharf was recorded on the Bure waterfront south of the church.

For further details, see RCHME Level 3 client report, earthwork plans at 1:500 and 1:1000 scales and architectural plans and elevations at various scales, held in archive. (7)

William Rugge or Repps was Bishop of Norwich 1536-1550, he was also Abbott of Saint Benet of Hulme. (8)

Scheduled. For the designation record of this site please see The National Heritage List for England (9-10)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1961
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Medieval religious houses in England and Wales
Source details :
Page(s) : 56,75,481
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : 'Bishops of Norwich', Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: volume 7: Ely, Norwich, Westminster and Worcester dioceses (1992), pp. 37-41 <> [Date accessed:15-NOV-2010]
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 9
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : North Norfolk 19-APR-1915, amended 22-MAY-2014
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : English Heritage. 2014. ‘English Heritage: The National Heritage List for England’, < http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1003149 > [Accessed 15-JUL-2014]
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Source Number : 11
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : English Heritage. 2014. ‘English Heritage: The National Heritage List for England’, < http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1171673 > [Accessed 15-JUL-2014]
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Source Number : 3
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District of North Norfolk 16-APR-1955, amended 22-MAY-2014 (Note - this information preceded NHLE information - DOE (HHR), No 2374/11/A Smallburgh RD 1947 9 )
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Norfolk archaeology : a journal of archaeology and local history
Source details : W R Rudd
Page(s) : XXXI-XXXIII
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 18, 1914
Source Number : 5
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : CUC CQ 18.19.21
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JB 19-JUN-73
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : RCHME: ST Benet's Abbey Survey
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7a
Source : Norfolk archaeology : a journal of archaeology and local history
Source details : Swales TH. The Redistribution of Monastic Lands in Norfolk at the Dissolution
Page(s) : 45-73
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 34, 1966
Source Number : 7b
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Snelling J. 1983. St Benet's Abbey, Norfolk
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 7c
Source : Journal of the British Archaeological Association
Source details : Loftus-Brock EP. The Abbey of St Benet at Holm
Page(s) : 15-21
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 36, 1880

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Reformed to Benedictine rule
Monument End Date : 1066
Monument Start Date : 1019
Monument Type : Benedictine Monastery, Abbey
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Extant 800; abandoned circa 870
Monument End Date : 870
Monument Start Date : 800
Monument Type : Monastery, Minster
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Conjectural Evidence
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Refounded 960; extant until 1018
Monument End Date : 1018
Monument Start Date : 960
Monument Type : Monastery, Minster
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Conjectural Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Extant
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Benedictine Monastery, Abbey, Gatehouse, Precinct Wall, Fishpond, Dock, Wharf, Church
Evidence : Demolished Building, Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Extant
Monument End Date : 1699
Monument Start Date : 1600
Monument Type : Windmill
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : NF 6
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Norfolk)
External Cross Reference Number : 5199
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Norfolk)
External Cross Reference Number : 5200
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 107806
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 224372
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1003149
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1171673
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TG 31 NE 3
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 133451
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 965102
Relationship type : Is referred to by
Associated Monuments : 133460
Relationship type : Is referred to by
Associated Monuments : 503097
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON TG 31 NE 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1973-06-19
End Date : 1973-06-19
Associated Activities : RCHME: ST BENET'S ABBEY SURVEY
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1994-10-01
End Date : 1994-10-01
Associated Activities : INVESTIGATION BY RCHME/EH ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-11-14
End Date : 1995-11-14
Associated Activities : ST BENETS ABBEY
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : ST BENEDICT'S CHURCH, HORNING
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2006-01-01
End Date : 2006-12-31
Associated Activities : LUDHAM BRIDGE TO ST. BENET'S ABBEY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31