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HER Number:MDV1424
Name:Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury

Summary

The priory, founded between 1129 and 1139, is one of Devon's small monastic sites; the recorded population in 1278 was a prior and three monks. Documentary evidence indicates that the priory possessed a prior's house, two mills, two dovecotes and three cottages as well as church, chapter house, cloister and frater. Today the site gives an outward appearance of a Georgian farmhouse and oubuildings but their plan probably reflects that of the priory, the house on the north side of the yard probably standing where the church once was. One of the few buildings to survive the dissolution was the frater on the south side of the yard which was converted to a dwelling and latterly used as a shippon. It was, unfortunately, largely demolished in 1985. Although the walls still stand a rare survival of a medieval roof has been lost.

Location

Grid Reference:ST 074 064
Map Sheet:ST00NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBroadhembury
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBROADHEMBURY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: ST00NE/5
  • Royal Albert Memorial Museum Accession Number: 494/2006

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PRIORY (Roman to XVIII - 43 AD to 1800 AD (Between))

Full description

Thorp, J., Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury, Devon (Report - Survey). SDV355362.


Laithwaite, M., 03/10/1980, The Barn at Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury, Devon (Report - Survey). SDV357737.


Jackman, B., 07/10/1984, Raising A Barnstorm (Article in Serial). SDV357735.

Years of decay of Kerswell Barn, a rare 15th century monastic building, have forced the local council to condemn it as dangerous and its demolition seems inevitable.


Salvatore, J. P., 12/04/1999, Kerswell Priory (Personal Comment). SDV134520.

The scheduling of the priory is under consideration by English Heritage in 1999.


Dean Milles, 1747-1762, Parochial Survey Questionnaire (Monograph). SDV16186.


Lysons, D. + Lysons, S., 1822, Magna Britannica, 266 (Monograph). SDV323771.

Some post-dissolution owners named.


Oliver, G., 1846, Monasticon Diocesis Exoniensis, 312 (Monograph). SDV57424.


Pring, T. H., 1862, Memoirs of Thomas Chard, 195 (Article in Serial). SDV102585.

Pring apparently confuses Thomas Chard of Kerswell with an abbot of Ford Abbey (see Sherwin).


Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

Marked as 'The Priory Cluniac Priory (Remains of)'.


Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.


Sherwin, C., 1927, The History of Ford Abbey, 259 (Article in Serial). SDV134860.

The last prior, Thomas Chard, should not be confused with the Abbot of Ford (as in Pring).


Everett, A. W., 1938-1939, Kerswell. A Cell of Montacute, 110 (Article in Serial). SDV357726.


Department of Environment, 1950, Honiton RD, 12 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV118185.


Graham, R., 1952, A History of the Buildings of the English Province of the Order of Cluny After the Suppression of Some Priories and the General Dissolution of the Monasteries, 15 (Article in Serial). SDV339447.

The priory has long been a farmhouse, the church converted into a dwelling in 16th century.


Ralegh Radford, C. A., 1952, Description [of Kerswell Priory], 118-121 (Article in Serial). SDV357725.

The monastic remains include a fragmentary doorway dating to the late 12th century and a much altered late medieval dwelling, which is now a cowhouse and barn. The house, which retains timber and plaster work of Tudor date, was enlarged in the 18th century and has been modernised.
The northern block of the farmhouse buildings was formerly the church; internal features of 16/17th century date inserted into this. The east wing contains part of the transept and the chapter house. Now detached, part of east range (barn) would have had reredorter at its south end. The south range held the frater, later the priors dwelling.


Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: South Devon, 189 (Monograph). SDV336217.

The farm incorporates fragments of the priory.


Graham, R., 1952, The Cluniac Priory of St. Mary Carswell, 115-118 (Article in Serial). SDV357724.

The priory had a cloister, chapterhouse, dorter and frater. However, the full complement of prior and 12 monks was probably never realised as the endowment was small. The buildings were described during a visitation in 1278 as being in good condition. Incidents in the priory's history are recounted in the article.


Youings, J., 1955, Devon Monastic Lands, 89 (Monograph). SDV2117.


Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1963, Monuments Threatened or Destroyed, 1956-62, 30 (Un-published). SDV83845.


Copeland, G. W., 1964, Proceedings at the 102nd Annual Meeting, 24 (Article in Serial). SDV57390.


Lockett, R. B., 1971, A Catalogue of Romanesque Sculpture from the Clunaic House in England, 43-61 (Article in Serial). SDV342191.

An inventory of 1301 lists liturgical vessels and vestments.


Knowles, D. + Hadcock, R. N., 1971, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, 100, 101 (Monograph). SDV323253.

Listed as a dependency of Montacute priory. There were 6 monks circa 1298, a prior and three monks in 1379 and two monks in the 16th century.


Beacham, P., 1978, Devon's Traditional Buildings, Front cover photo (Article in Monograph). SDV340405.


Weddell, P. J., 1980s, Devon Religious Houses Survey. Kerswell Priory (Archive - Survey). SDV357862.


Allan, J. P. + Griffiths, D. M., 1985, Kerswell Priory Refectory, 51-53 (Article in Serial). SDV354910.


Allan, J. P. + Griffiths, D. M., 1985, Survey of Kerswell Priory Refectory, 1984 (Report - Survey). SDV344659.


Unknown, 1986 - 1987, Devon Religious Houses Survey (Un-published). SDV347681.


Griffiths, D. M., Allan, J. P., Weddell, P. J., 1986/87, Kerswell Priory (Report - Survey). SDV356223.

Kerswell Priory is one of Devons smaller monastic sites. It is in private ownership and today outwardly presents the appearance of a Georgian farmhouse and outbuildings.
The priory, dedicated to St. Mary, was founded between 1129 and 1139, a cell of the Cluniac Monastery of Montacute in Somerset. The endowment by its founder, lady Matilda Peverel, was small and it is considered unlikely that the full complement of a prior and 12 monks was ever achieved. In 1278 the recorded population was a prior and three monks and at the time of the dissolution there were apparently two monks.
The earliest documented mention of the monastic buildings is in 1278 when it is recorded that 'the building and church are in good condition'. An extent of the priory documented in 1325 shows that the priory possessed a relatively small amount of land and income, referring to the house of the prior, garden, water mill, mill, two dovecotes and three cottages as well as 144 acres of pasture, waste, meadow and woodland. The exact location of these buildings is unknown but the plentiful supply of water on site suggests that the mills were close by. The list of buildings not included in the grant by the King to John Etheridge in 1546 also gives a further idea of the buildings associated with the priory - church, chapter house, cloister and frater.
The suggested plan of the priory with buildings ranged around a small courtyard or cloister is reflected in the plan of the farmstead today. However, only the barn which until recently occupied the south side of the courtyard and which has been identified as the frater has any evidence of medieval work. The farmhouse on the north side appears to be a new construction of the 16th century with an 18th century wing at the west end. The only medieval fabric appears to be a reused Norman doorway in an outbuilding on the eastern side of the courtyard. It seems likely, therefore, that the church and chapter house were demolished in the latter part of the 16th century and new buildings erected.
The survival of the frater is probably due to its conversion after the dissolution to a typical cross passage house. Radford's suggestion that that the building was latterly the 'poor lodge' of the prior mentioned in 1533 is considered doubtful in the light of the reference to 'Le Fraytre' in 1546. The building was significantly altered in the 19th century and used as a shippon. Unfortunately, what was a rare survival of a roofed monastic building was demolished in 1985. A site visit made in 1986 recorded external walls still standing with doorways and ground floor openings including two of medieval date intact.


Weddell, P. J., 1986-7, Devon Religious Houses Survey 1986/87. Preliminary Assessment Form. Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury (Un-published). SDV357833.

Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury. Alien Cluniac priory founded 1119-1129 from Montacute.
Farmhouse contains re-used Norman doorway. Believed to occupy site of north, west and east ranges of priory, including church and chapter house. Present house of 16th/17th century character may incorporate medieval fabric. South range, variously called frater or abbots house, largely or wholly demolished in 1985. Buried deposits are likely to exist under the farmyard south of the house.


Jackson-Stops & Staff, 1987, Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury (Leaflet). SDV134524.

Description of buildings given.


Department of Environment, 1989, Broadhembury, 62 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV340167.


Devon County Council, 1990, DAP/QD, 1-3 (Aerial Photograph). SDV297846.


Devon County Council, 1990, DAP/QD, 1-3 (Aerial Photograph). SDV297846.


Weddell, P. J., 1991, An Archaeological Assessment of Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury (Report - Assessment). SDV340329.

Assessment undertaken in order to establish the archaeological potential of the site of Kerswell Priory. A summary of the previous work carried out on the site is also given.
The priory was probably founded between 1119 and 1129 as a cell of the monastery of Montacute in Somerset. It belonged, therefore to the Cluniac order based at Cluny in Burgundy. It was founded by Lady Matilda Peverel who endowed in with lands at Kwerswell and ‘Estcote’ as well as the parsonage of the church of Ermington. Although it was intended to be a conventual priory it has been suggested that it never achieved this status. The clerical population appears to have fluctuated, like most small medieval religious houses, but it probably never dropped below three monks.
The extent of the priory in 1325 included a water mill, a fulling (folaraticum) mill and two dovecotes as well as the prior’s house.
In 1337, at the beginning of the Hundred Years War, Edward III ordered the seizure of alien priories in order to prevent the passage of money and goods to France where many mother houses were located. This included Kerswell and the payment of various subsidies and rents to the crown throughout the 14th century was to greatly deplete its resources. Little is known of its later history. The last prior was Thomas Chard who accepted the position of prior in 1532 in place of a pension, on his retirement from Montacute. The priory was dissolved with Montacute in 1539.
There are few documentary references to the priory buildings. The grant of the priory after its dissolution refers to the church, chapter house, cloister and frater (citing Youings). The 18th century incumbent of Broadhembury refers to ‘the house with tower still remaining’ and ‘chapel now converted to profane uses’ (citing Milles). It is not certain to which building the tower was attached. The layout belonging to the later farmstead is believed to reflect the plan of the priory. The farmhouse stands on the north side of a small courtyard to the south of which is a range of outbuildings. These preserve the same east-west alignment of the farmhouse, which is thought to reflect the position of the church. No buildings survive on the site of the west range, but the position of the east range appears to be marked by a long narrow building at right-angles to the demolished barn.
The lack of both documentary and architectural evidence for the medieval priory means that the plan of the monastic complex remains uncertain. The conjectured plan is based on evidence for the location of the church which dictates the layout of the remainder of the priory. The only definite surviving architectural feature relating to the church is the Norman doorway of which the northern jamb is thought to be in its original position. The conclusion is, therefore, that the farmhouse has been largely rebuilt on the foundations of the church. The barn which does contain well-preserved medieval features is presumed to represent the south range. The remainder is based on the typical claustral plan but it is noted that this could be misleading as the plans of smaller dependent monastic houses are generally not well-understood. Although, the nature and extent of archaeological deposits must, therefore, also remain uncertain there is nevertheless significant potential for their survival.


Hall, M. E. P., 1991, An Archaeological Evaluation at Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury (Report - Evaluation). SDV355100.


Allan, J. + Young, G., 2006, The Refectory Range of Kerswell Priory, 149-192 (Article in Serial). SDV344658.

The refectory range was largely demolished in 1985. It had been converted to a house following the dissolution and later turned into an agricultural building. Details of the building given, taken largely from the survey that was conducted just prior to the building's demolition, together with an archaeological assessment of the farmhouse range and post-medieval documentation relating to Kerswell Priory.


Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.


National Monument Record, 2015, Pastscape, 188074 (Website). SDV357603.

Site of a probably cloister although no visible remains survive. NMR No. ST00NE13. Record last updated: 2004.


Griffith, F. M., 23/11/1988, DAP/JJ, 7-12 (Aerial Photograph). SDV134521.


Historic Environment Record, April 1985, Kerswell Priory (Ground Photograph). SDV134533.


Griffiths, D. + Allen, J., Aug 1984, Kerswell Priory (Report - Survey). SDV357734.

Former south range of priory recorded prior to intended demolition. The range preserves an almost intact late medieval roof although most of the walls have been rebuilt during the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.


Weddell, P. J., Dec 1986, Kerswell Priory Barn, 688, 689 (Ground Photograph). SDV357863.

Black and white photos taken in 1986 following demolition of the roof structure and internal features, leaving only the main external walls standing.


Harrison, A., Jan 1985, Kerswell - Cutting the Life-Span (Article in Serial). SDV357733.


Allan, J. P. + Griffiths, D. M., July 1984, Kerswell Priory (Personal Comment). SDV357864.

Site visit July 1984. The present farmhouse, built on three sides of a square may occupy the site of the north, west and east ranges of the priory. The church would have been where the north or central part of the farmhouse now is, and the chapterhouse in the east wing. A detached north-south barn represents the extension of the east range to house dorter and reredorter. The south range, also now a barn (and attached to the other) was the frater and appears to have the greatest survival of medieval fabric. Recent stripping of the render from the farmhouse buildings suggests little or no medieval masonry survives. The farmhouse contains one re-used Norman door.


Historic Environment Record, July 1984, Kerswell Priory (Ground Photograph). SDV134532.


Devon County Council Conservation Section, July 1984, Kerswell Priory, Film 613, 614 (Ground Photograph). SDV357732.


National Buildings Record, Unknown, ST00NE/45817 (Report - Survey). SDV134523.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Unknown, ST00NE1 + 2 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV134514.

Site visit 27th November 1953. No visible remains of the church, although the north wall of the Elizabethan house and south wall are probably old. There are no visible remains of the cloister. A small yard now incorporates the site.


National Monument Record, Unknown, ST00NE21/524841 (Ground Photograph). SDV357730.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV102585Article in Serial: Pring, T. H.. 1862. Memoirs of Thomas Chard. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 18. Unknown. 195.
SDV118185List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1950. Honiton RD. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 12.
SDV134514Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. Unknown. ST00NE1 + 2. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV134520Personal Comment: Salvatore, J. P.. 12/04/1999. Kerswell Priory.
SDV134521Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 23/11/1988. DAP/JJ. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper) + Digital (Scan). 7-12.
SDV134523Report - Survey: National Buildings Record. Unknown. ST00NE/45817. National Buildings Record Report. Unknown.
SDV134524Leaflet: Jackson-Stops & Staff. 1987. Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury. Estate Agents Sales Catalogue. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV134532Ground Photograph: Historic Environment Record. July 1984. Kerswell Priory. Historic Environment Record Slide Collection. Slide.
SDV134533Ground Photograph: Historic Environment Record. April 1985. Kerswell Priory. Historic Environment Record Photo Collection. Slide.
SDV134860Article in Serial: Sherwin, C.. 1927. The History of Ford Abbey. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 59. A5 Hardback. 259.
SDV16186Monograph: Dean Milles. 1747-1762. Parochial Survey Questionnaire. Parochial Survey. Unknown.
SDV2117Monograph: Youings, J.. 1955. Devon Monastic Lands. Devon Monastic Lands. Unknown. 89.
SDV297846Aerial Photograph: Devon County Council. 1990. DAP/QD. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1-3.
SDV323253Monograph: Knowles, D. + Hadcock, R. N.. 1971. Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales. Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales. Unknown + Digital (part). 100, 101.
SDV323771Monograph: Lysons, D. + Lysons, S.. 1822. Magna Britannica. Magna Britannica: A Concise Topographical Account of The Several Counties o. 6: Devonshire. Unknown. 266.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336217Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: South Devon. The Buildings of England: South Devon. Paperback Volume. 189.
SDV339447Article in Serial: Graham, R.. 1952. A History of the Buildings of the English Province of the Order of Cluny After the Suppression of Some Priories and the General Dissolution of the Monasteries. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 15. Unknown. 15.
SDV340167List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1989. Broadhembury. Historic Houses Register. Website. 62.
SDV340329Report - Assessment: Weddell, P. J.. 1991. An Archaeological Assessment of Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Field Investigation. 91.41. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV340405Article in Monograph: Beacham, P.. 1978. Devon's Traditional Buildings. The Conservation of the Heritage. Unknown. Front cover photo.
SDV342191Article in Serial: Lockett, R. B.. 1971. A Catalogue of Romanesque Sculpture from the Clunaic House in England. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 34. Unknown. 43-61.
SDV344658Article in Serial: Allan, J. + Young, G.. 2006. The Refectory Range of Kerswell Priory. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 64. Paperback Volume. 149-192.
SDV344659Report - Survey: Allan, J. P. + Griffiths, D. M.. 1985. Survey of Kerswell Priory Refectory, 1984. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #81190 ]
SDV347681Un-published: Unknown. 1986 - 1987. Devon Religious Houses Survey. Devon Religious Houses Survey. Mixed Archive Material.
SDV354910Article in Serial: Allan, J. P. + Griffiths, D. M.. 1985. Kerswell Priory Refectory. Exeter Archaeology 1984/5. A4 Stapled + Digital. 51-53.
SDV355100Report - Evaluation: Hall, M. E. P.. 1991. An Archaeological Evaluation at Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 91.58. A4 stapled + Digital.
SDV355362Report - Survey: Thorp, J.. Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury, Devon. Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants Report. K371. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV356223Report - Survey: Griffiths, D. M., Allan, J. P., Weddell, P. J.. 1986/87. Kerswell Priory. Devon Religious Houses Survey. 25. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV357603Website: National Monument Record. 2015. Pastscape. http://www.pastscape.org.uk. Website. 188074.
SDV357724Article in Serial: Graham, R.. 1952. The Cluniac Priory of St. Mary Carswell. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 84. Hardback Volume. 115-118.
SDV357725Article in Serial: Ralegh Radford, C. A.. 1952. Description [of Kerswell Priory]. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 84. Hardback Volume. 118-121.
SDV357726Article in Serial: Everett, A. W.. 1938-1939. Kerswell. A Cell of Montacute. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 20. Unknown. 110.
SDV357730Ground Photograph: National Monument Record. Unknown. ST00NE21/524841. National Monuments Record Collection. Unknown.
SDV357732Ground Photograph: Devon County Council Conservation Section. July 1984. Kerswell Priory. Devon County Council Conservation Section Photo Archive. Photograph (Paper) + Digital. Film 613, 614.
SDV357733Article in Serial: Harrison, A.. Jan 1985. Kerswell - Cutting the Life-Span. SPAB News. 6.1. A4 Single Sheet + Digital.
SDV357734Report - Survey: Griffiths, D. + Allen, J.. Aug 1984. Kerswell Priory. Devon Religious Houses Survey. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV357735Article in Serial: Jackman, B.. 07/10/1984. Raising A Barnstorm. Sunday Times Magazine. Newspaper/Magazine Cutting + Digital.
SDV357737Report - Survey: Laithwaite, M.. 03/10/1980. The Barn at Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury, Devon. Devon Religious Houses Survey. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV357833Un-published: Weddell, P. J.. 1986-7. Devon Religious Houses Survey 1986/87. Preliminary Assessment Form. Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury. Devon Religious Houses Survey. A4 Single Sheet + Digital.
SDV357862Archive - Survey: Weddell, P. J.. 1980s. Devon Religious Houses Survey. Kerswell Priory. Devon Religious Houses Survey. Mixed Archive Material + Digital.
SDV357863Ground Photograph: Weddell, P. J.. Dec 1986. Kerswell Priory Barn. Devon Religious Houses Survey. Photograph (Paper). 688, 689.
SDV357864Personal Comment: Allan, J. P. + Griffiths, D. M.. July 1984. Kerswell Priory.
SDV57390Article in Serial: Copeland, G. W.. 1964. Proceedings at the 102nd Annual Meeting. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 96. A5 Paperback. 24.
SDV57424Monograph: Oliver, G.. 1846. Monasticon Diocesis Exoniensis. Monasticon Diocesis Exoniensis. Unknown. 312.
SDV83845Un-published: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1963. Monuments Threatened or Destroyed, 1956-62. Photocopy. 30.

Associated Monuments

MDV44439Parent of: Dovecotes at Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury (Building)
MDV24027Parent of: Refectory Range, Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury (Building)
MDV44449Related to: Bank Barn at Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury (Building)
MDV44447Related to: BOUNDARY in the Parish of Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV44448Related to: BOUNDARY in the Parish of Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV44440Related to: BUILDING in the Parish of Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV44441Related to: BUILDING in the Parish of Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV44442Related to: Buildings to east of Kerswell Priory Farmhouse, Broadhembury (Building)
MDV44446Related to: Cemetery at Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV44445Related to: CULVERT in the Parish of Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV44438Related to: Fulling Mill at Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury (Building)
MDV24028Related to: Kerswell Priory Farmhouse, Broadhembury (Building)
MDV44443Related to: MILL POND in the Parish of Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV44444Related to: MILL POND in the Parish of Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV44435Related to: Outbuilding at Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury (Building)
MDV30857Related to: The Granary, Kerswell Priory Farmhouse, Broadhembury (Building)
MDV44437Related to: Watermill at Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4741 - Survey of Kerswell Priory Refectory
  • EDV4742 - Archaeological Survey and Assessment at Kerswell Priory

Date Last Edited:Mar 18 2015 12:01PM