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CHER Number:02782
Type of record:Building
Name:Ramsey Abbey Gatehouse


Ramsey Abbey Gatehouse stands north west of the House and is a partly ruined building of 2 storeys, of the medieval structure nothing survives except a portion of the c. 15th century Gatehouse.

Grid Reference:TL 290 850
Parish:Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire

Monument Type(s):

  • GATEHOUSE (15th century - 1401 AD to 1500 AD)

Associated Events:

  • Fenland Survey Project, 1976-1989

Protected Status:

Full description

1. The Gatehouse stands north west of the house and is a partly ruined building of 2 storeys; the walls of stone are faced with ashlar. It was built late in the 15th century. The gateway itself formerly stood across the modern roadway on the west, but of this only the east wall remains, together with parts of the flanking turrets on the north and south. The Lodge forms the adjoining block on the east. The north front has a moulded plinth but the top of the building has been destroyed, the octagonal turret has richly panelled faces with cinque-foiled and sub-cusped heads and an embattled cornice between the storeys. The east block has a similar cornice between the storeys and an altered 2 light window to the ground floor with a square moulded label; the upper storey has a square oriel window of slight projection and of 2 cinque-foil lights on the face; the window rests on a moulded and arched corbelling supporting a band of quatre-foils and a moulded and enriched string; the angles of the windows were carved up as pinnacles but the top has now been destroyed. The face of the wall flanking the window head has a rich band of sub-cusped quatre-foils surmounted by a moulded cornice with carved bosses. This bay of the building is flanked on the east by a buttress. Only the core of the wall is left and against it has been built a modern gateway. The rear or south front has been generally similar to the north front but the turret has been completely ruined and the lower window has been cut down to form a doorway. The upper stage of the east buttress partly remains on this side and has a niche on the face with a moulded pedestal. The west side retains part of the jamb of the north arch of the gateway and a shaft, perhaps a vaulting shaft, in the adjoining angle; only a fragment of the lower jamb of the south arch remains. In the wall is a doorway, now blocked, with a 4 centred head and label. Inside the building are 2 doorways with pointed heads and the mid 17th century south door has a head made up of moulded and carved woodwork. The main room has a dado of 17th century panelling.

2. The present lodge is a fragment of the Great Gate of the monastery, which when complete must have been a fine specimen of a 15th century gatehouse. The arched gateway stood on the west side of the lodge across the present roadway, and was pulled down when the road to Warboys was made in the early 18th century. In the north side is a plain two-light window and a two-light cinquefoiled oriel window above. The gatehouse was at one time used as a prison and was thatched with reed. Possibly at this time the upper part of the house was destroyed.

3. Ramsey Abbey Gatehouse (NR).

4. Of the Medieval structure nothing survives except a portion of the 15th century gatehouse. The gatehouse is the property of the National Trust.

5. There is some weed, mostly rose bay willow herb, growing out of the stonework, and the turret stairway has some green moss staining, otherwise the stonework appears in good condition. The interior appears to be free of damp. Dado not located. In the gatehouse on the ground floor is the monument to Ailwin who founded the abbey. It is of Purbeck(Alwalton?) marble and dates from about 1240 and resembles the abbots' monuments at Peterborough. The head is in a cinque-foiled pointed arch. The face has a short beard. Stiff leaf crockets run up the edges.

6. The gatehouse is built of rubble with ashlar facings, and survives to a height of two storeys. Decoration from both sides of the gatehouse was removed at the dissolution and encorporated into the enlarged gatehouse being constructed at Hinchingbrooke. Inside the gatehouse is a late 13th century alabaster effigy of Ailwyn, rescued from the ruins of the abbey and in the modern extension are fragments of roof bosses from the abbey buildings. In the north wall of the precincts to the east of the gatehouse is a early 19th century gateway with gabled bell turret abov, designed by Sir John Soane. Part of the precinct wall is original but the wall on the south side of the parish churchyard was rebuilt in the 19th century using old material including numerous pieces of dressed stone.

7. Fenland Survey, RAM S11.

<1> RCHM, 1926, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire, 207 - 209 (Bibliographic reference). SCB12619.

<2> Page, W., Proby, G and Inskip Ladds, S., 1932, The Victoria County History of Huntingdonshire. Volume 2, 193 (Bibliographic reference). SCB12071.

<3> 1958, OS 6 inch map (Map). SCB9007.

<4> Dickinson, P.G.M., 1967, St Ives Chapel; Ramsey church, Abbey and Gatehouse. Archaeol J 124: 214-58, 245 - 247 (Article in serial). SCB900.

<5> Patterson, H., unknown date, Verbal communication from H. Patterson regarding Ramsey Abbey (Verbal communication). SCB21718.

<6> Haigh, D., 1988, The Religious Houses of Cambridgeshire (Bibliographic reference). SCB6219.

<7> Hall, D.N., 1992, The Fenland Project, Number 6: The South-Western Cambridgeshire Fenlands, RAM S11 (Bibliographic reference). SCB16698.

Sources and further reading

<1>Bibliographic reference: RCHM. 1926. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire. 207 - 209.
<2>Bibliographic reference: Page, W., Proby, G and Inskip Ladds, S.. 1932. The Victoria County History of Huntingdonshire. Volume 2. 193.
<3>Map: 1958. OS 6 inch map.
<4>Article in serial: Dickinson, P.G.M.. 1967. St Ives Chapel; Ramsey church, Abbey and Gatehouse. Archaeol J 124: 214-58. 245 - 247.
<5>Verbal communication: Patterson, H.. unknown date. Verbal communication from H. Patterson regarding Ramsey Abbey.
<6>Bibliographic reference: Haigh, D.. 1988. The Religious Houses of Cambridgeshire.
<7>Bibliographic reference: Hall, D.N.. 1992. The Fenland Project, Number 6: The South-Western Cambridgeshire Fenlands. RAM S11.

Related records

01777Related to: Booth's Hill, Ramsey Abbey (Monument)
11953Related to: Late Saxon and Medieval remains, Ramsey Abbey School (Monument)
02781Related to: Medieval abbey, Ramsey Abbey (Monument)
02781bRelated to: Post Medieval house and school, Ramsey Abbey (Building)
12329Related to: Ramsey Abbey park and gardens (Park and Garden)