HeritageGateway - Home

Login  |  Register
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.


HER Number:MDV20062
Name:Buckfast Abbey Guesthouse

Summary

Remains of the medieval guesthouse at Buckfast Abbey built in the 14th century on 12th century foundations with later alterations. Fornerly listed as The Gate House and St. Theresa's Cottage.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 740 673
Map Sheet:SX76NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishBuckfastleigh
DistrictTeignbridge
Ecclesiastical ParishBUCKFASTLEIGH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX76NW18
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX76NW/24/7
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 392220
  • Old SAM Ref: 29672
  • Pastscape: 444830

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • GUEST HOUSE (XI to XIX - 1100 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Devon County Council, 14/12/1981, Development Plan Involving New Car Park and Visitor Facilities, Buckfast Abbey (Correspondence). SDV348524.

Former guest hall, one of the grandest halls in Devon. Its relationship to the 16th century farmhouse is unclear. Importance of current planning proposals discussed.


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

Shown as several adjoining buildings on 19th century map.


Worthy, C., 1883, Berry Castle and its Ancient Lords, 433 (Article in Serial). SDV15361.

The arms of Pomeroy can be seen over the doorway of a barn or stable on the left hand side of the road nearly opposite the entrance to Buckfast Abbey.


Everett, A. W., 1935, Buckfast Abbey Chronicle, 165-8 (Un-published). SDV348578.

Remains of the Medieval guest hall at Buckfast Abbey. Also called Gatehouse and St Theresa's Cottage, or The Grange, or The Abbey Barn. The abbey farmhouse ia at right-angles to th guest hall. Substantially built of coursed rubble, 34.4 metres long and originally 12.8 metres wide, though width reduced at some time by about 1/3, and height lowered. Walls battered, because of weight of roof. No windows in side walls, but at least seven in east wall. Roof of seven bays supported by vertical timbers flush with (ie set in) the side walls. Probably 13th century and used later for storage.


Everett, A. W., 1937 - 1938, Buckfast Abbey Chronicle, 41-48 (Un-published). SDV348579.

The guest hall at Buckfast Abbey probably occupied the central area of a range of buildings. Between 18 and 20 metres long, and 10.5 metres wide. To the south was a two storey structure, a buttery or pantry with solar over. Remains of ground floor doorway to this survive. Further buildings were in existence south of the hall. Walls of hall circa 1.5 metres thick; the disposition of the roof bays is discussed; and it is suggested the hall had three aisles.


Copeland, G. W., 1955, Old Houses Viewed in 1954 by the Plymouth Branch, 378-9 (Article in Serial). SDV340913.

Curtailed to about half its length on the south-west side, but end walls and half a dividing wall remain on south-east. Traces at south-east end of chamber with an upper floor, beyond which are the remains of the kitchen. Now in use as a barn. The main entrance (blocked arch) near dividing wall at south-east. Also here a primitive wall cupboard. Discussion of evidence for roof type - possibly an aisled hall. The gatehouse has an early circular staircase, south-west of the kitchen are the remains of a garderobe. In an old stone wall in the orchard are three or four rectangular recesses which may have been bee boles.


Blair, W. J., 1981, Buckfast Abbey: Features of Architectural and Archaeological Interest (Report - Assessment). SDV348441.

13th century aisled guest hall or lodging. Discussion of roofing; possible evidence for alteration during Medieval period, which involved partitioning off the southernmost bay. Discussion of south end - either originally a detached chamber-block or the service end. Possibly the range once contained two guest halls, for different classes of guests.


Allan, J., 1981, Report on the Archaeological Implications, Buckfast Abbey (Report - Assessment). SDV348585.

Surviving remains show it was a grandiose hall, a rare surviving example of a Cistercian guest hall. Internal features need elucidating. Kitchen block probably stood on south side. South of this is a large upstanding fragment of medieval masonry now ivy covered and needing repair.


Department of Environment, 1983, Buckfastleigh, 4 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV337043.

Circa 13th century remains of Buckfast Abbey incorporated into circa 17th century stone rubble range with asbestos slate roof and gable ends. The 13th century building extended further to the west and was occupied by a large hall, the west wall of which no longer exists, but the east wall is now the front wall of the present building. Two storeys. Modern casements and doorway. Large two-centred arch at south end. Stone chimney stacks at ridge. The abbey farmhouse may have been associated dormitories.


Youngs, S. M. + Clark, J. + Barry, T., 1984, Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1983, 203-65 (Article in Serial). SDV348586.

14th century guesthouse recorded and shown by excavation to overlie two earlier buildings interpreted as the first guesthall and a detached service block. These stood adjacent to the Early Medieval precinct wall and appear to belong to a 12th century rebuilding of the abbey. This part of the precinct wall was removed in the early 13th century when the monastic enclosure was enlarged on its west side. In the Late Medieval period an east wing, probably a lodgings block, was added to the guesthouse.


Department of Environment, 1985, Images of listed buildings in Buckfastleigh, 15/07/1985 (Photograph). SDV359974.

Two images taken.


Griffith, F. M., 1988, Devon's Past. An Aerial View, 116 (Monograph). SDV64198.

Buckfast Abbey gatehouse, seen crossing the road at the entrance to the site, is another medieval survival, and recent archaeological recording work has identified substantial remains of other medieval structures, including the guest hall, in the standing buildings to the west of the road.


Brown, S. W., 1988, Excavations and Building Recording at Buckfast Abbey, 34-55, Figs 16-28, Plates 2-5. (Article in Serial). SDV348443.

Excavation and survey in 1982 revealed the footings of two separate buildings erected next to the precinct wall prior to its removal in the early 13th century. The larger measured 24.9 metres by at least 10 metres and was divided into two rooms. Footings were of stone and mortar. The smaller building stood 3 metres to the south, and lay endways to the precinct wall. It measured 3.8 metres by at least 11 metres, with similar footings. These are interpreted as the hall and services of the early guesthouse. The early 14th century guesthouse occupied almost exactly the same site, and brought under one roof the previously separate functions. It measured 38.05 metres by 13.5 metres with stone walls up to 1.2 metres thick (some still standing to more than 6 metres). Its three part plan comprised: a ground floor hall open to the roof; an upper end, probably of two floors, providing sleeping accommodation; a lower end containing a first floor chamber above two service rooms separated by a passage. Garderobes in extension blocks at each end of the building. Roof and some walls dismantled soon after the Dissolution, and farm buildings erected on eastern half of the site, incorporating parts of the earlier structure. These buildings still stand, though considreably altered. Article details the five identified phases of alteration from the late 13th century to the 20th century.


Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 225-6 (Monograph). SDV325629.

Guest House at Buckfast Abbey running north to south and dated to the early 14th century but standing on 12th century foundations. Much of the east wall survives including the entrance doorway and the shell of the service rooms at the south end. The jamb of one of a pair of doorways to these survives with a relieving arch above. At the north end are the foundations of a two storey solar block with garderobe extension. There are long deep chases for roof timbers implying a four bay cruck roof structure over the unaisled hall.


Unknown, 1993, Abbey Guesthouse (Photograph). SDV348589.


National Monuments Record, 1999, 444830 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV348516.


Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2000, Buckfast Abbey (Schedule Document). SDV348444.

Although Buckfast Abbey began life as a Benedictine monastery it was under Cistercian rule for much of its life. Certain of the abbey buildings survive well as adapted structures from the earlier periods of the abbey's history whilst others have been rebuilt directly on 12th century Cistercian foundations. Those remains of the abbey included in the scheduling have been demonstrated from partial excavation and survey to retain information about the abbey, the lives of its inhabitants, and their relationship with the outside world. The remains convey, along with the archaeological and historical material presented by the abbey to the public, a sense of the monastic life of the Middle Ages. This combination of standing remains, coupled with academic and popular accounts of the abbey buildings, enhances the educational quality of this monument which still functions as a monastery.
The monument includes part of the north-west area of the precinct of the outer court of Buckfast Abbey including the standing arch of the North Gate, the below ground remains of buildings and courtyards of the outer court, the standing remains of a kitchen and service block, and the below ground remains of the Medieval guesthouse and Abbot's guest hall. The abbey is sited on the west bank of the River Dart on the southern edge of Dartmoor, just north of the town of Buckfastleigh. Although originally a Benedictine foundation, and for a short time under Savignac rule, the plan of the abbey largely reflects the Cistercian monastic arrangement following the absorption of the abbey into the Cistercian order in 1147. The present plan of the abbey also reflects the ancient division between an inner and outer court, a common feature of Cistercian houses, the inner court being reserved essentially for the monastic community whilst the outer court catered for the needs of guests and visitors. The abbey was in monastic occupation from its foundation until 1539 when it fell victim to the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It reverted to the role of a monastery from 1882, however, and was rebuilt largely on the original foundations. The inner court of the monastic complex at Buckfast has as its focus the abbey church, a Grade II* Listed Building, which was re-erected on exposed 12th century foundations. The claustral ranges were also rebuilt on the existing plan and they incorporate the remains of a barrel-vaulted undercroft of probable 12th century date. Further below ground remains, suspected but not confirmed to be those of the abbot's house and the infirmary, have been recorded to the south-east of the claustral block. The inner court does not form part of the scheduling owing to the presence of a monastic community at Buckfast, where regular worship takes place in the abbey church and where other buildings and areas of the inner court are utilised for prayer and contemplation. The scheduling encompasses part of the area of the outer court of the ancient abbey on its north-western side. Visible remains exist within the outer court in the form of a number of ruined and adapted structures and archaeological investigations have demonstrated the presence of the below ground remains of buildings, enclosure walls, surfaces, and archaeological deposits of the 12th-19th centuries. The principal above ground survivals of the Medieval period are the 14th century guesthouse, the 15th century Abbot's guest hall, and the southern arch of the North Gate. In addition, there are fragmentary standing remains of what is considered to be a kitchen block and service buildings attached to the guesthouse and guest hall. The two adjoining buildings of the guesthouse and Abbot's guest hall, both Listed Buildings Grade II, are in use and only the ground beneath them is included in the scheduling. The 14th century guesthouse has been shown to have developed from a smaller 12th century building of likely similar function. It comprised a ground floor hall, an upper end, probably of two floors providing sleeping accommodation, and the lower end of a chamber above two service rooms. In post-Dissolution adaption the building was narrowed and the original outer west wall survives exposed at ground level with modern consolidation. Also surviving are the remains of an 18th century garderobe. The Abbot's guest hall, known as Abbey Farm after its later period of use, survives as an adapted structure with all four of its medieval walls standing to nearly full height. It was a 15th century addition to the guesthouse suite standing almost at right angles to it and it has been shown in archaeological excavations to be overlying earlier remains including 12th century drainage channels. Abbey Farm is a Listed Building Grade II. Excavations have also taken place both to the south and north of the guesthouse. Those to the south revealed a structure interpreted as the guesthouse kitchen whilst to the north a building complex with a long sequence of use dating from the late 13th or early 14th century, and extending into the 15th century, was discovered. Recovered in excavation was a building with an associated cobbled courtyard which lay above disturbed 12th century levels. The excavator has demonstrated that the building fell into disrepair but was restored and refurbished including the laying of new underfloor drains. The building was subsequently replaced by a smaller and narrower structure towards the end of the 15th century. An archaeological trench east of the guesthouse also revealed evidence for what may be wooden buildings and a good depth of archaeological stratigraphy was recorded including Dissolution deposits resulting from the demolition processes of the 16th century when the monastic buildings were stripped for salvage. The abbey at its outset was enclosed by a precinct wall on at least three sides, the fourth side being bounded by the River Dart. However, at some stage in the 13th century the decision appears to have been taken to enlarge the area of the outer court without replacing the western precinct wall which was removed and robbed of its stone. The abbey, which was first confirmed in the Benedictine order, is known from documentary sources to have been founded by at least 1018 although part of its cartulary is missing. In 1136 the abbey was granted by King Stephen to the Abbot of Savigny in Normandy and it was briefly under Savignac rule until 1147 when it was transferred to the Cistercian order and subsequently became one of the richest Cistercian abbeys in the south of England. The abbey was in monastic occupation from its foundation until the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII in 1539. Following the Dissolution, Buckfast Abbey passed through a number of private owners and the buildings of the outer court were converted into a farm, before the whole site was purchased by an exiled group of French Benedictines in 1882. The Benedictine rule was re- introduced and Boniface Natter blessed as first abbot in 1903 whilst work began on the restoration of the abbey church and other buildings. These works resulted in the consecration of the new church in 1932 and its completion in 1938. The abbey was still functioning as a living monastic community at the turn of the 21st century. Included in the scheduling are the fragmentary standing remains of the kitchen block, the south west exposed walling of the guesthouse where this does not form part of the adapted standing building, and the exposed western foundation wall of the guesthouse. Some of this walling has been rebuilt and consolidated as part of 20th century measures to display the ruined walls to the public. Also specifically included in the scheduling is the North Gate arch and, although recognised to be Post Medieval in date, the stretch of wall immediately west of, and abutting, the North Gate. Excluded from the scheduling are the standing buildings of the guesthouse, the building known as the Abbot's guest hall, the Post Medieval cow shed west of the guesthouse (in use as a video display area), the east passage wall of the North Gate, the Methodist chapel building of 1881, the modern walkway which connects the guesthouse and the Abbot's guest hall, and all modern surfaces and pavings, street furniture, telegraph poles, and fencing, although the ground beneath all these features is included. Other details: Monument Number 29672.


Salvatore, J. P., 2000, Monuments Protection Programme (Un-published). SDV348587.

There are fragmentary standing remains of what is considered to be a kitchen block and service buildings attached to the guesthouse and guest hall. The two adjoining buildings of the guesthouse and abbot's guest hall are in use and only the ground beneath them is included in the scheduling. The 14th century guesthouse has been shown to have developed from a smaller 12th century building of likely similar function. It comprised a ground floor hall, an upper end, probably of two floors providing sleeping accommodation, and the lower end of a chamber above two service rooms. In post-dissolution adaptation the building was narrowed and the original outer w wall survives exposed at ground level with modern consolidation. Also surviving are the remains of an 18th century garderobe. Excavations have also taken place both to the south and north of the guesthouse. Those to the south revealed a structure interpreted as the guesthouse kitchen whilst to the north a building complex with a long sequence of use dating from the late 13th or early 14th century, and extending into the 15th century, was discovered. Recovered in excavation was a building with an associated cobbled courtyard which lay above disturbed 12th century levels. The excavator has demonstrated that the building fell into disrepair but was restored and refurbished including the laying of new underfloor drains. The building was subsequently replaced by a smaller and narrower structure towards the end of the 15th century. An archaeological trench east of the guesthouse also revealed evidence for what may be wooden buildings and a good depth of archaeological stratigraphy was recorded including Dissolution deposits resulting from the demolition processes of the 16th century when the monastic buildings were stripped for salvage.


Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2001, Monument Number 29672 (Correspondence). SDV348445.


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

Building shown as '18' and '18a' on modern mapping.


English Heritage, 2011, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV347072.

The Guest House at Buckfast Abbey was Listed on 10th January 1951. (It was formerly Listed The Gate House and St Theresa's Cottage.
Built in the early 14th century with later alterations of local stone rubble under a slate roof, partly asbestos, partly natural laid in diminishing courses, gabled at ends; stacks with stone rubble or rendered shafts.
Plan: the entrance was on the east side at the south-east corner of the open hall, lit by two large windows on the east side and presumably by two similar on the west side. The hall had a domestic piscina in the south wall and two service doorways to the south end service rooms which were chambered over. The upper end probably contained dormitories on two floors. After the Dissolution parts of the building were taken down, it was narrowed when the west wall was replaced and it was reused as farmbuildings and for modest domestic accommodation. Circa 1800 the building was converted into a row of cottages. There have also been late 19th/early 20th century alterations.
Exterior: Brown's published account indicates precisely how much Medieval and Post-Medieval masonry survives. Two storeys. 4:1-window east front. Left-hand block, separately-roofed, has pointed archway, original entrance to hall, to left and large opening on first floor. Centre block, now the bookshop has three ground-floor 2-light casements; large entrance to late 19th/early 20th century cross passage at left end and modern doorway to booskhop to right of centre. Four 3-light casements to first floor. Right hand block has one first-floor 3-light casement and one ground-floor 2-light casement. The east wall has a scatter of casement windows. The service end is preserved in an unroofed condition, its features are described in detail by Brown.
This is an important Medieval survival, a rare surviving example of a monastic building of this type. Pevsner points out that it represents "an exceptional discovery, as little is known of the buildings on the fringes of Medieval monastic sites". (Buildings of England: Pevsner N & Cherry B: Devon: London: 1989-: 222-226; Proceedings of Devon Archaeological Society: Brown S W: Excavations & Building Recording at Buckfast Abbey, Devon: Devon: 1988).


Brown, S., 2012, Buckfast Abbey. Desk-based Archaeological and Historic Building Assessment of South Wing of Medieval Guesthouse and Adjacent Area, 7 (Report - Assessment). SDV351038.

Excavations in 1982-4 to the south-west of the south wing of the abbey guesthouse amongst the standing ruins and to the south-west within the open area now occupied by the coach and car park uncovered part of a medieval stone building interpreted as a detached kitchen which would have served the guest house. The excavations also uncovered a network of ditches to the west of the building. These collected rainwater and carried it to either end of the guesthouse where it was used to flush through drains beneath garderobes. Eight pits associated with early 14th century iron-smithing hearths were also found. Nails, probably to fix slates on the guesthouse roof, were made here.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV15361Article in Serial: Worthy, C.. 1883. Berry Castle and its Ancient Lords. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 15. Unknown. 433.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 225-6.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV337043List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1983. Buckfastleigh. Historic Houses Register. A4 Spiral Bound. 4.
SDV340913Article in Serial: Copeland, G. W.. 1955. Old Houses Viewed in 1954 by the Plymouth Branch. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 87. A5 Hardback. 378-9.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #82657 ]
SDV347072National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2011. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV348441Report - Assessment: Blair, W. J.. 1981. Buckfast Abbey: Features of Architectural and Archaeological Interest. Unknown.
SDV348443Article in Serial: Brown, S. W.. 1988. Excavations and Building Recording at Buckfast Abbey. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. Paperback Volume. 34-55, Figs 16-28, Plates 2-5..
SDV348444Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2000. Buckfast Abbey. The Schedule of Monuments. Website.
SDV348445Correspondence: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2001. Monument Number 29672. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Letter.
SDV348516National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 1999. 444830. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV348524Correspondence: Devon County Council. 14/12/1981. Development Plan Involving New Car Park and Visitor Facilities, Buckfast Abbey. Memo to Dartmoor National Park. Letter.
SDV348578Un-published: Everett, A. W.. 1935. Buckfast Abbey Chronicle. Unknown. 165-8.
SDV348579Un-published: Everett, A. W.. 1937 - 1938. Buckfast Abbey Chronicle. Unknown. 41-48.
SDV348585Report - Assessment: Allan, J.. 1981. Report on the Archaeological Implications, Buckfast Abbey. Unknown.
SDV348586Article in Serial: Youngs, S. M. + Clark, J. + Barry, T.. 1984. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1983. Medieval Archaeology. 28. Unknown. 203-65.
SDV348587Un-published: Salvatore, J. P.. 2000. Monuments Protection Programme. Monuments Protection Programme. Report on Site for which Scheduling is Not . Unknown.
SDV348589Photograph: Unknown. 1993. Abbey Guesthouse. Slide.
SDV351038Report - Assessment: Brown, S.. 2012. Buckfast Abbey. Desk-based Archaeological and Historic Building Assessment of South Wing of Medieval Guesthouse and Adjacent Area. Stewart Brown Associates Report. A4 Bound. 7.
SDV359974Photograph: Department of Environment. 1985. Images of listed buildings in Buckfastleigh. Photograph (Paper). 15/07/1985.
SDV64198Monograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1988. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Paperback Volume. 116.

Associated Monuments

MDV7814Related to: Abbey Farmhouse , Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV103755Related to: Abbey Guesthouse Kitchen, Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV7809Related to: Abbots Tower at Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV103753Related to: Cottage to south of Buckfast Abbey Guesthouse (Building)
MDV47943Related to: Methodist Chapel, Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV7846Related to: North Gate at Buckfast Abbey (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Jan 6 2017 11:25AM