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Historic England Research Records

Thetford Priory

Hob Uid: 382977
Location :
Norfolk
Breckland
Thetford
Grid Ref : TL8733682277
Summary : Thetford Priory was a cell of Bury St Edmunds and established by Abbot Uvius in St George's Church on the Suffolk side of Thetford in the reign of Cnut. All but two monks had died by 1160, they declared that they wished to be removed to Bury St Edmunds. It was subsequently refounded as a Benedictine nunnery by Abbot Hugh for nuns who had been living at Ling. The Priory was dissolved in 1537. The remains of the nunnery still survive as standing fabric. The conventual church has been converted to other use. Inside , the only apparent original fabric is the grand arch towards the South transept, and two blocked arches one each side of the nave, although another leading to a blocked staircase has been uncovered in the South-East corner of the transept during the conversion work. Beyond the transept and in line with its East wall, a blank arch is visible incorporated into the end wall of the garage, which Pevsner states probably connected with the East range of the cloister. Further South is the large roofless oblong building oriented North-South, postulated as being the refectory. The church was apparently first converted into use as a domestic dwelling after the Dissolution, for an Elizabethan moulded door frame/window and two further windows now blocked, are visible externally on the South wall of the nave and West wall of the transept. Presumably the decline of this house into use as farm buildings coincided with the construction of the present Nunnery Place House in the 18th century.
More information : [TL 87318222] The Nunnery and remains of [T.I.] St. George's Nunnery [G.T.] (Benedictine) (1)

Founded before 1035 as a Benedictine cell, but was deserted in C.1160 when it became a house of Benedictine nuns. Dissolved in 1537. (2) The building in 1894 formed part of the Farm, the conventual church being used as a barn, a fine arch then still remaining. The other ruins are mostly in the private gardens.(3)

The S.S. Reviser describes the site as completely unroofed, the remains comprising a complete outer wall varying in height from 15-20ft., with sections of partition walls remaining.(4)

The remains comprise the priory church with S. transept, now a grain store, and totally hidden from view by adjoining farm buildings and internal plastering; a large, blank stone arch to the S. of the transept, which probably connected with the E. range of the cloisters,and now incorporated into the W. end wall of a modern garage; and the roofless ? refectory to the S. of "The Nunnery", the walls of which stand to apprx. 5.0m. height. "The Nunnery" is L. 18th c., but has a fine Elizabethan doorway, and is built like the greater part of the outbuildings and garden and boundary walls, of reused materials; no trace of original precinct walls was found. (5)

See AO/SER/67/5/3-4. Published 1/2500 survey revised (Map Diagram)

Formerly known as: Nunnery Place House. House. Early C17 and later, restored 1990-91. Re-used limestone ashlar. Machine tile roofs. Nearly square in plan beneath 3 parallel roofs running east-west. Late C20 extension to east. Listed. For the designation record of this site please see The National Heritage List for England (6)

(TL 87318222) The Nunnery remains of (NAT) St George's Nunnery (NR)
(Benedictine) (NAT) (7)

Formerly known as: Remains of St George's Nunnery in grounds of Nunnery Place House. Conventual church of Benedictine nunnery of St George. C11, re-founded c1160. Turned into a house C16 and a barn to Place Farm C18. Library and offices 1991. Flint and clunch with ashlar dressings. Now with slate roofs. Nave, south transept and part of chancel remain. C20 lean-to extensions north and south, the latter masking 3 late C16 limestone 3-light cross casements with hoods on lozenge label stops.
Listed. For the designation record of this site please see The National Heritage List for England (8)

A cell of Bury St. Edmunds was established by Abbot Uvius after 1020, in the church of St. George, formerly on the Suffolk side of Thetford. (9)

Additional bibliography. (10)


The remains of the nunnery still surviving as standing fabric are centred at TL 87318226. The conventual church is at TL 87308229; formerly in use as a barn and/or stable, it is now [1987] in the process of conversion into an old people's nursing home. Inside, the only apparent original fabric is the grand arch towards the S. transept, and two blocked arches one each side of the nave, although another leading to a blocked staircase has been uncovered in the SE corner of the transept during the current building work. Beyond the transept and in line with its E. wall, a blank arch is visible incorporated into the end wall of the garage at TL 87328227, which Pevsner (auth 10) states probably connected with the E. range of the cloister. Further S., at TL 87318222, is the large roofless oblong building oriented N-S, postulated by auth 5 as being the refectory. The church was apparently first converted into use as a domestic dwelling after the Dissolution, for an Elizabethan moulded door frame/window and two further windows now blocked, are visible externally on the S. wall of the nave and W. wall of the transept. The C17th brick arch mentioned by auth 8 lies at TL 8718382268, W. of Nunnery Drive, and is part of the grounds layout around the house. Presumably the decline of this house into use as farm buildings should coincide with the construction of the present Nunnery Place House (TL 87308225) in the C18th. (See illustration card). (11)

Nunnery Place ruin approx 10m SE of the Nunnery . Formerly known as: Remains of St George's Nunnery in grounds of Nunnery Place House. Conventual building to south-east of Benedictine nunnery of St George, possibly hospital. Founded c1160, but remaining buildings late medieval, altered C17. Clunch, limestone and flint with ashlar and some brick dressings. Considerable amount of re-used ashlar. No roof. Rectangular plan with narrower north extension. One storey, formerly of 2. West side with stepped buttresses. West side of north extension has 2 blocked 4-light stone mullioned windows, and one late medieval doorway under a 4-centred arch with hoodmould. East facade with several blocked openings. 2 doorways and a chamfered plinth. Listed. For the designation record of this site please see The National Heritage List for England. (12)

The former church of St George is now [2014] part of the premises and library of the headquarters for the British Trust for Ornithology (13)

National Heritage List for England (14)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1959
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Md. Relig. Houses, 1953. 78, 220. (Knowles & Hadcock)
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Source Number : 11
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 WRW-N 15-OCT-87
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Source Number : 12
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District of Breckland 03-Apr-1951, amended 01-Dec-1993
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Source Number : 13
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Email correspondence 29-SEP-2014 Mr D Osborne
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Source Number : 14
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=1195915 > [Accessed 30-SEP-2014]
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Thetford - Hist. & Descriptive Sketch. 1894 (Anon)
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Source Number : 4
Source : Large Scale / Small Scale Map Revisers Comment
Source details : S.S. Revised 18.9.50
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Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 ASP 10-NOV-67
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Source Number : 6
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District of Breckland 03-APR-1951, amended 01-DEC-1993. DOE (HHR) Thetford Norf 1971 2
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Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : OS 1:2500 1976
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Source Number : 8
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District of Breckland 03-APR-1951, amended 01-DEC-1993. DOE(HHR) Thetford Norf 1971 2
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Source Number : 9
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Md Relig Houses 1971 57 78 (D Knowles & R N Hadcock)
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Source Number : 10
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Bldgs of Eng NW & S Norf 1962 344-345 (N Pevsner)
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date :
Monument End Date : 1066
Monument Start Date : 1020
Monument Type : Benedictine Cell
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Extant
Monument End Date : 1160
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Benedictine Cell, Parish Church
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Extant
Monument End Date : 1537
Monument Start Date : 1160
Monument Type : Benedictine Nunnery, Priory, Church
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Converted
Monument End Date : 1901
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : Barn, Stable
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Late 20th Century
Display Date : Late 20th Century
Monument End Date : 2000
Monument Start Date : 1967
Monument Type : Library, Office
Evidence : Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Norfolk)
External Cross Reference Number : 5892
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 384794
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1207997
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 384797
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1195915
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 384796
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1208030
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TL 88 SE 21
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 130653
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 382532
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, ST GEORGE'S NUNNERY (NB 28)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1957-01-01
End Date : 1957-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TL 88 SE 21
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1967-11-10
End Date : 1967-11-10
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: OS SWEEPS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1983-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TL 88 SE 21
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1987-10-15
End Date : 1987-10-15
Associated Activities : Primary, ST GEORGE'S NUNNERY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1989-01-01
End Date : 1989-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ST GEORGE'S NUNNERY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ABBEY FARM BARN
Activity type : DENDROCHRONOLOGICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THETFORD PRIORY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE WILDERNESS POND, THETFORD PRIORY
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE WILDERNESS POND, THETFORD PRIORY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND NORTH OF ABBEY BARNS, MONKSGATE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2004-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ST GEORGE'S NUNNERY, NUNS BRIDGE ROAD
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THETFORD PRIORY SECURITY PROJECT
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THETFORD PRIORY SIGNAGE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31