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HER Number:MDV1465
Name:Canonsleigh Abbey

Summary

The remains of Canonsleigh Abbey, founded in the 12th century, include a gatehouse and the rere-dorter.

Location

Grid Reference:ST 067 173
Map Sheet:ST01NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBurlescombe
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBURLESCOMBE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: ST01NE/2
  • Old SAM County Ref: 296
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: ST01NE 4

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ABBEY (XII to Late Medieval - 1161 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Ministry of Works, Canonsleigh Abbey (Schedule Document). SDV343188.

Founded as a house of male Augustinian Canons, refounded as an Abbey for Augustinian nuns in 1282. A relatively important house, the convent numbered 19 at the dissolution. Visible remains include (a) The Great Gatehouse, and (b) the rere-dortar, which stands to full height (wrongly marked "Mill" on Ordnance Survey map). The church and claustral buildings probably lay to the north in the grounds of Fosse-end Cottages and not to the south (the map suggests).

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

Swete, J., 1880, 564 M/F 17 Devon Tour, volume 20, 93-109 (Record Office Collection). SDV343205.

Brief history of Abbey and post-dissolution owners given. Description and illustration of Abbey remains. Other details: Illustrations.

Tanner, T. C., 1892, Canonsleigh Abbey, 347-50 (Article in Serial). SDV343189.

The ruins were described in 1892 as "falling rapidly into decay", the surviving portions being the porter's lodge (the gatehouse) and the eastern wings, supposed to have been the kitchen and scullery.

Buckle et al, 1892, Canonsleigh Abbey, 41-3 (Article in Serial). SDV343206.

Elworthy, F. T., 1892, Canonsleigh, 359 (Article in Serial). SDV343190.

Despoiled by stone seekers. No clue left to general plan of the priory, nor site of church of Saint Mary and Saint John the Evangelist. It probably stood to the north of the present ruins. Was connected with Plympton Priory.

Reichel, O. J., 1898, The Domesday Hundreds of Devon: Parts 7,8: The Hundreds of Bampton and Uffculm, 444-5 (Article in Serial). SDV342708.

Unknown, 1912, Canonsleigh Nunnery, 54-5 (Article in Serial). SDV343204.

Description of remains given with interpretation.

Rose-Troup, F., 1912 - 1913, Canonsleigh Priory, 104-5 (Article in Serial). SDV343201.

The circumstances of the transfer of the Priory from Canons to Canonesses in 1284 noted.

Office of Works, 1924, Canonsleigh Priory (Schedule Document). SDV343187.

The south gatehouse is in good preservation and portions of domestic buildings at the north end are all that remain. Cottages have been built on the site of former parts of the monastery. The abbey was destroyed in 1539 and a manor house built on the site, some remains of which have been incorporated in the cottages subsequently built. There is some carving in the barn.

R. B. M., 1928 - 1929, Abbesses of Canonsleigh, 119 (Article in Serial). SDV343207.

New documentary evidence cited to complete the list of addresses.

Stephan, J., 1935, The Ancient Religious Houses of Devon. Adapted from the 'Historic Collections' and the 'Monasticon Dioec. Exoniensis' of George Oliver, D.D., 67-9 (Monograph). SDV343186.

Founded by Walter de Clavilla or Claville in the latter half of the 12th century. Dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and St. Augustine. Apparently connected in some way with Plympton Priory as the community were to elect a Prior from there if unable to agree on a selection from among their own members. The priory was made over to the Canonesses of the same order in 1284. Priors and Abesses listed. Dissolved in 1538.

Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: North Devon, 67 (Monograph). SDV336196.

Cambridge University Collection, 1953, CUC/MH, 84-91 (Aerial Photograph). SDV24830.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 359 (Monograph). SDV17562.

At Canonsleigh Farm is the site of an Augustinian nunnery founded by Maud Countess of Devon. A house of Austin Canons had been founded here by William de Claville between 1161 and 1173, but in 1284 the house and its property were made over to regular canonesses of the same order, the head of the nunnery ranking as an abbess. A damaged gateway remains (the west entrance to the priory) and part of a tower. There are also remains of the priory mill.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1955 - 1967, ST01NE 4 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV343202.

Site visit 6th March 1967. Building described as a Chapel on Ordnance Survey 25 inch map is the gatehouse, there are no other remains. Much of the ruined building (remains of Mill) still stands to its original height. Other details: Photos.

Department of Environment, 1959, Tiverton RD, 7 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV54004.

Unknown, 1965, The Cartulary of Canonsleigh Abbey (Monograph). SDV343210.

Dunning, R. W., 1965 - 1967, The Cartulary of Canonsleigh Abbey, 126-7 (Article in Serial). SDV343203.

History given in discussion of cartulary.

Knowles, D. + Hadcock, R. N., 1971, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, 139,152,278,279,138,147 (Monograph). SDV323253.

Cambridge University, 1975, CUC/BUO, 56-8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV237834.

Griffiths, D. M., 1982, Canonsleigh Abbey (Personal Comment). SDV343200.

Site visit 7th June 1982. The outbuildings which extend eastwards from the gatehouse on the north side may contain fabric from the monastic buildings. Site is in multiple occupancy.

Devon County Council, 1982, Canonsleigh Abbey (Ground Photograph). SDV343208.

Other details: Film 542/1.

Timms, S. C., 1982, Mid Devon District: Canonsleigh Abbey, Burlescombe (Report - non-specific). SDV343212.

The site of the medieval abbey at Canonsleigh is now occupied by Canonsleigh Barton, Canonsleigh Farm and at least one other property. The recorded surviving architectural remains of the abbey consist of the gatehouse, and some 120 metres to the east, the rere-dorter. The rere-dorter is covered in vegetation and in need of attention. The gatehouse is of 14th century date and is one of only about six such structures in Devon. The upper chamber of the gatehouse is now roofless and vulnerable to the elements, and water can penetrate the tops of the walls and through to the vaulting of the gateways.

Devon County Council, 1983, Canonsleigh Abbey Gatehouse, Interim Repairs (Ground Photograph). SDV343209.

Other details: Film 539/30-31.

Robinson, R., 1983, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1983 (Un-published). SDV345762.

Site visit by Department of Environment Field Monument Warden on 1st March 1983.

Ison, J. R., 1984 - 1986, Canonsleigh (Article in Serial). SDV343195.

Griffiths, D. M., 1985, An Archaeological Survey of Canonsleigh Abbey, Burlescombe, Devon (Report - Survey). SDV343199.

After the dissolution, a house was probably built on the site in 1628, and this itself replaced by a mansion in the 18th century. Other than the gatehouse and reredorter, no remains of the monastery are visible, with possible exception of the well at the back of Canonsleigh house. The medieval water system of underground culverts is apparently still in good working order. It is possible the church lay where Canonsleigh House and Farm now are; to the north of the cloister and the reredorter at the south end of the east range. The area between cloister and gatehouse may have held ancillary buildings of various sorts.

Devon County Council, 1985, Canonsleigh Abbey (Ground Photograph). SDV343197.

Other details: Film 622.

Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/GY, 5-8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV339068.

Devon Religious Houses Survey, 1986-7, Devon Religious Houses Survey 1986/87. Premilinary Assessment Form. Canonsleigh Abbey (Un-published). SDV358420.

Preliminary assessment form of site listing architectural remains, potential for buried deposits, previous research, aerial photos, modern use and survey potential.

Devon Religious Houses Survey, 1986-7, Devon Religious Houses Survey. Canonsleigh Abbey (Archive - Survey). SDV358421.

Griffith, F. M., 1987, DAP/HV, 15 (Aerial Photograph). SDV46813.

Department of Environment, 1988, Canonsleigh Abbey (Schedule Document). SDV343211.

Of the two buildings that formerly comprised this monument the western-most, outlined in blue, (a) The Gatehouse, has been descheduled - but remains protected as a Grade I listed building. The Rere-dorter (b) and approach (wrongly marked MILL on Ordnance Survey map) outlined in red, remain scheduled as before. Other details: Map.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 243 (Monograph). SDV325629.

Reed, S. J. + Turton, S. D., 1993, Archaeological Assessment of Westleigh Quarry, Burlescombe, 3 (Report - Assessment). SDV343196.

English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West, 102 (Report - non-specific). SDV342694.

Condition generally unsatisfactory with major localised problems.

English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West, 94 (Report - non-specific). SDV344777.

English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West, 89 (Report - non-specific). SDV355280.

Condition generally unsatisfactory with major localised problems. Trend unknown.

Mills Whipp Projects Ltd., 2014, Westwood, Land Adjoining Junction 27 on M5: Archaeological Desk Based Assessment (Report - Assessment). SDV360955.

Mills Whipp Projects has been commissioned to prepare a desk based assessment of archaeology for the Westwood site on the eastern side of Junction 27 of the M5.
About 5 km to the north of the subject site at Canonleigh lay an Augustinian Priory founded in the 12th century by Walter Claville. This was changed in the 13th century by Maud de Clare Countess of Gloucester to a House for an Abbess and canonesses. Its revenues were estimated at the time of the Dissolution at £197 nett. A market at Canonleigh was granted
to the Abbess in 1286, to be held on Wednesdays. At the Dissolution the site was granted in exchange for other lands to Sir George St. Leger, whose son sold it to Hugh Columb. Subsequently, it changed hands many times.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 359.
SDV237834Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1975. CUC/BUO. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 56-8.
SDV24830Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University Collection. 1953. CUC/MH. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 84-91.
SDV323253Monograph: Knowles, D. + Hadcock, R. N.. 1971. Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales. Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales. Unknown + Digital (part). 139,152,278,279,138,147.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 243.
SDV336196Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: North Devon. The Buildings of England: North Devon. Paperback Volume. 67.
SDV339068Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/GY. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 5-8.
SDV342694Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound +Digital. 102.
SDV342708Article in Serial: Reichel, O. J.. 1898. The Domesday Hundreds of Devon: Parts 7,8: The Hundreds of Bampton and Uffculm. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 30. A5 Hardback. 444-5.
SDV343186Monograph: Stephan, J.. 1935. The Ancient Religious Houses of Devon. Adapted from the 'Historic Collections' and the 'Monasticon Dioec. Exoniensis' of George Oliver, D.D.. The Ancient Religious Houses of Devon. Adapted from the 'Historic Collections' and the 'Monasticon Dioec. Exoniensis' of George Oliver, D.D.. Hardback Volume. 67-9.
SDV343187Schedule Document: Office of Works. 1924. Canonsleigh Priory. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV343188Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. Canonsleigh Abbey. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV343189Article in Serial: Tanner, T. C.. 1892. Canonsleigh Abbey. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 38. Unknown. 347-50.
SDV343190Article in Serial: Elworthy, F. T.. 1892. Canonsleigh. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 24. Unknown. 359.
SDV343195Article in Serial: Ison, J. R.. 1984 - 1986. Canonsleigh. Tiverton Civic Society Newsletter. Unknown.
SDV343196Report - Assessment: Reed, S. J. + Turton, S. D.. 1993. Archaeological Assessment of Westleigh Quarry, Burlescombe. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 93.53. A4 Stapled + Digital. 3.
SDV343197Ground Photograph: Devon County Council. 1985. Canonsleigh Abbey. Devon County Council Conservation Section Collection. Photograph (Paper).
SDV343199Report - Survey: Griffiths, D. M.. 1985. An Archaeological Survey of Canonsleigh Abbey, Burlescombe, Devon. Devon County Council Report. A4 Stapled.
SDV343200Personal Comment: Griffiths, D. M.. 1982. Canonsleigh Abbey.
SDV343201Article in Serial: Rose-Troup, F.. 1912 - 1913. Canonsleigh Priory. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 8.1. Unknown. 104-5.
SDV343202Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1955 - 1967. ST01NE 4. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV343203Article in Serial: Dunning, R. W.. 1965 - 1967. The Cartulary of Canonsleigh Abbey. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 30. Unknown. 126-7.
SDV343204Article in Serial: Unknown. 1912. Canonsleigh Nunnery. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 58.1. Unknown. 54-5.
SDV343205Record Office Collection: Swete, J.. 1880. 564 M/F 17 Devon Tour, volume 20. Devon Record Office Collection. 93-109.
SDV343206Article in Serial: Buckle et al. 1892. Canonsleigh Abbey. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 38.1. Unknown. 41-3.
SDV343207Article in Serial: R. B. M.. 1928 - 1929. Abbesses of Canonsleigh. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 15. Unknown. 119.
SDV343208Ground Photograph: Devon County Council. 1982. Canonsleigh Abbey. Devon County Council Conservation Section Collection. Unknown.
SDV343209Ground Photograph: Devon County Council. 1983. Canonsleigh Abbey Gatehouse, Interim Repairs. Devon County Council Conservation Section Collection. Photograph (Paper).
SDV343210Monograph: Unknown. 1965. The Cartulary of Canonsleigh Abbey. The Cartulary of Canonsleigh Abbey. New Series 8. Unknown.
SDV343211Schedule Document: Department of Environment. 1988. Canonsleigh Abbey. Amendment to Scheduled Area of Monument. A4 Stapled.
SDV343212Report - non-specific: Timms, S. C.. 1982. Mid Devon District: Canonsleigh Abbey, Burlescombe. Devon County Council Report. A4 Stapled.
SDV344777Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2010. Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West. English Heritage Report. Digital. 94.
SDV345762Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1983. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1983. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV355280Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West. english Heritage. Digital. 89.
SDV358420Un-published: Devon Religious Houses Survey. 1986-7. Devon Religious Houses Survey 1986/87. Premilinary Assessment Form. Canonsleigh Abbey. Devon Religious Houses Survey. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV358421Archive - Survey: Devon Religious Houses Survey. 1986-7. Devon Religious Houses Survey. Canonsleigh Abbey. Devon Religious Houses Survey. A4 Unbound + Digital.
SDV360955Report - Assessment: Mills Whipp Projects Ltd.. 2014. Westwood, Land Adjoining Junction 27 on M5: Archaeological Desk Based Assessment. Mills Whipp Projects Ltd.. Digital.
SDV46813Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1987. DAP/HV. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 15.
SDV54004List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1959. Tiverton RD. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 7.
SDV57424Monograph: Oliver, G.. 1846. Monasticon Diocesis Exoniensis. Monasticon Diocesis Exoniensis. Unknown.

Associated Monuments

MDV1467Parent of: Canonsleigh Abbey Gatehouse (Building)
MDV17630Parent of: Chapels at Canonsleigh Abbey (Building)
MDV11469Parent of: Reredorter at Canonsleigh Abbey (Building)
MDV1466Parent of: Well at Canonsleigh Abbey (Monument)
MDV11468Related to: Canon's Dyke, Canonsleigh (Monument)
MDV17654Related to: Fishpond at Canonsleigh Abbey, Burlescombe (Monument)
MDV17644Related to: Pugham Mills, Burlescombe (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7600 - Desk Based Assessment: Westwood, Land adjoining Junction 27 on M5, Mid Devon

Date Last Edited:Jan 30 2020 12:45PM