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Owston Abbey

Hob Uid: 321103
Location :
Leicestershire
Harborough
Owston and Newbold
Grid Ref : SK7743007960
Summary : Augustinian Abbey founded pre-1161, dissolved 1536. Former abbey church incorporated in present parish church. Buried foundations of associated buildings including gatehouse demolished late 18th century. Six earthwork fishponds and a boundary. The remains of the abbey buildings are located in the vicinity of, and incorporated in, the parish church of St Andrew. Features within the church date from the 12th century with a chancel situated below ground, external to the present church. It is considered that the cloister and its associated buildings lie to the south of the church where stonework is known to exist beneath the present ground surface. Further stonework can be seen exposed in earthworks 100m to the south-west which indicates associated buildings. The foundations of a building, surviving as an earthwork can also be seen some 300m to the south-west. A gatehouse, demolished in the late 18th century, stood adjoining the south-west corner of the nave. Two sets of fishponds are located to the west of the buildings and extend north-south. The first is a complex of four fishponds south of the road measuring 100 x 25m; 50 x 30m; 60 x 25m and 125 x 30m respectively. The complex is contained within a boundary bank and ditch up to 4m wide and 1m high which extends from the south of the site westwards. Across the road to the north is a further set of two fishponds which appear different to the others being long and narrow and contained within substantial banks up to 2m high. They measure 120 x 8m and 75 x 10m respectively.
More information : (SK 77430796) St Andrew's Church (NAT) on site of Owston Abbey (NR) (Austin Canons Founded AD 1161) (1)

St Andrew's Church at Owston was founded before 1161 by Robert Grimbald. The Doc.Ilustrative of Social and Econ. Hist. of Danelaw (ed F M Stenton), 316-17 states that "gifts to the abbey were confirmed by Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury who died in 1161". (2)

Owston, Leicestershire: The abbey of St Andrew was founded by Robert Grimbald and confirmed by Archbishop Theobald (d. 1161) for canons following the same rule as at Haughmond, Salop. It may originally have been Arroasian, but by 1260-80 was in the list of ordinary Augustinian Houses. There were 17 canons in 1377 and 15 in 1440. The Abbot and 11 canons acknowledged the Royal supremacy in 1534, but in 1536, when the Abbey was dissolved, there were said to be only 6 canons besides the Abbot. (3)

Conspicuous traces of the Abbey's fish pond can be seen in a field near St Andrew's Church at Owston. (Centred in field 'A', SK 774 077 from RAF AP's 106G/UK/636 4242/4243 and St Joseph AP CU 011). (4)

The church of St Andrew is a fragment of the Augustinian priory, representing the chancel with a wide chapel, circa 1300, with a contemporary tower at the NW angle of the chancel chapel. Two Perpendicular doorways of the priory are incorporated in the vicarage. (5)

Pevsner's identification of the church as being but the chancel must be at fault; the ground to the W soon drops away into a now dry fishpond. A copy of an 18th c engraving in the old vicarage shows a Tudor gatehouse, now gone, standing here abutting the church. A more level area to the E and S must surely be the site of the remainder of the church and associated buildings. The embanked Washdyke Road at SK 7735 0805 is almost certainly the dam of the large pond with the outflow channels surviving in the field to the north. See 25" survey.

Depressions at 'A' are not ponds but normal village disturbance. (6)

Church of St. Andrew. C15th square tower with porch under, with stone spire. C13th S. door. C15th N. aisle. C14th altar tomb in recess. Rubble, ashlar. Grade A. (7)

St Andrew. A fragment of the Augustinian abbey founded by Robert Grimbald before 1161 is represented by the nave, N aisle and NW tower. In 1556 the chancel was said to be `ruined'. It no doubt lay to the E of the present building. A late Perpendicular gatehouse adjoining the SW corner of the nave was demolished at the end of the C18th. (8)

SK 7739 0781; SK 7741 0812. Owston Augustinian Abbey with six fishponds, a gatehouse and boundary.
The remains of the abbey buildings are located in the vicinity of, and incorporated in, the parish church of St Andrew. Features within the church date from the 12th century with a chancel situated below ground, external to the present church. It is considered that the cloister and its associated buildings lie to the south of the church where stonework is known to exist beneath the present ground surface. Further stonework can be seen exposed in earthworks 100m to the south-west which indicates associated buildings. The foundations of a building, surviving as an earthwork can also be seen some 300m to the south-west. A gatehouse, demolished in the late 18th century, stood adjoining the south-west corner of the nave.
Two sets of fishponds are located to the west of the buildings and extend north-south. The first is a complex of four fishponds south of the road measuring 100 x 25m; 50 x 30m; 60 x 25m and 125 x 30m respectively. The complex is contained within a boundary bank and ditch up to 4m wide and 1m high which extends from the south of the site westwards. Across the road to the north is a further set of two fishponds which appear different to the others being long and narrow and contained within substantial banks up to 2m high. They measure 120 x 8m and 75 x 10m respectively.
The Augustinian abbey was founded by Robert Grimbald in 1166-7.
An environmental analysis by Leicester University has provided an insight into the fish kept by monastic foundations and also analyses from pollen and invertebrates. The church of St Andrew is excluded from the scheduling. Scheduled (RSM) No 17092. (9)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1967
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Source Number : 2
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Leicester, volume two
Source details :
Page(s) : 21
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Source Number : 3
Source : Medieval religious houses in England and Wales
Source details :
Page(s) : 169
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Source Number : 4
Source : Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 252
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Vol(s) : 22, 1941-5
Source Number : 5
Source : The Buildings of England
Source details : Leicestershire & Rutland 1960 206
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Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : B H Seaman/03-FEB-1972/Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigator
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Source Number : 7
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : MHLG List Billesdon RD, Leicestershire, May 1960, 11.
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Source Number : 8
Source : Leicestershire and Rutland
Source details :
Page(s) : 344-5
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Source Number : 9
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : English Heritage SAM Amendment Leicestershire 20-FEB-1992
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Extant
Monument End Date : 1536
Monument Start Date : 1161
Monument Type : Augustinian Monastery, Abbey, Gatehouse, Fishpond, Boundary
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Ruined Building, Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 17092
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 190606
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SK 70 NE 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 321125
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1580478
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SK 70 NE 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1972-02-03
End Date : 1972-02-03
Associated Activities : Primary, ST ANDREWS CHURCH, OWSTON
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CHURCH OF ST. ANDREW, OWSTON
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31