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HER Number:MDV24027
Name:Refectory Range, Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury

Summary

Former refectory range or frater of Kerswell Priory. It was converted to a house following the dissolution and later turned into an agricultural building. It was, unfortunately, largely demolished in 1985 and although the walls still stand what was a rare survival of a medieval roof has been lost. The interior of the building is now a patio garden. The roof timbers were removed at the time of demolition to Buckfast Abbey for re-use.

Location

Grid Reference:ST 073 064
Map Sheet:ST00NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBroadhembury
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBROADHEMBURY

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: ST00NE/5/3
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 87083

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ECCLESIASTICAL BUILDING (Demolished, XX - 1985 AD to 1985 AD)

Full description

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

The barn lies close to and on the south side of the present farmhouse. Its outer walls are of very mixed, poor quality rubble masonry and contain no openings inconsistent with the building's most recent use as a cowhouse and first floor barn. Inside, however, is a complete medieval roof which clearly belongs to a former domestic building. It is of five bays with six joined cruck trusses, the two centre ones are arch-braces and there two tiers of curved windbraces. The two end trusses must originaly have been almost up against the gable walls. The roof arrangements indicates the usual three part medieval house plan with a three bay hall in the centre, flanked by one-bay rooms at either end. The mortises of a former partition are visible in the truss at the east end of the hall, while at the west end the whole partition survives. The roof timbers of both hall and eastern room are smoke-blackened and there is a marked contrast with the clean timbers of the western partition. The roof timbers of the western room are clean and there are faint traces of painted decoration in red on one purlin. The lower parts of the jointed crucks have been hacked off and rest on stone or wooden blocks. It is suggested that the building may originally have been of cob and was rebuilt in stone. This would also account for the lack of early openings in the outer walls. It appears that the hall and eastern room were originally single-storeyed, with open hearths. The first floor structure looks barn period. There is the recess of a former chimney flue at first floor level in the eastern gable but it provides no dating evidence. There was formerly a stud and panel screen with two doorways forming a cross passage at the eastern end of the hall but this no longer survives. The western room retains a heavy chamfered east-west beam at first floor level which is supported at the east end by a thick jowled posts. There is no sign of an earlier upper floor so this end of the building appears also to have originally been single storeyed. A parallel for a relatively grand, apparently single storeyed late medieval house can be found at Priesthall, the former priest's house in Kentisbeare, not far away. The use of end trusses agains the gable walls and wind braces places Kerswell above farmhouse level.
Laithwaite suggests that the 1546 reference to 'the church, chapter house, cloyster and frayter' may be a general description rather than specific. Also that a suggestion has been made that this was the house of Prior Thomas Chard of Montacute who retired here in 1532. If so, he concludes that the house must pre-date him as 1532 seems rather a late date for a single-storeyed house of this quality. The barn may represent the bulk of the late medieval accommodation of the priory.


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.


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

Opposite the house, now a barn, is what used to be the chapel. It has a small roundheaded doorway. Inside is some panelling that probably came from the hall of the house. There are two doorways with obtuse angles, heads joined by post and pan panelling.


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, 25 (Article in Serial). SDV339447.

Late 15th century refectory converted to a dwelling house for Thomas Chard, circa 1532. Hall at west end with upper chamber with fire at east end. Service rooms below with screens passage. Outside kitchen.


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

Described as the best preserved medieval building [at Kerswell] lying on the south side of the farmyard and which now serves as a cow house and barn. It has a late medieval roof of four bays. The western half of the building was open to the roof, the eastern part had two storeys. The lower part of the screen remains, although displaced and dilapidated. The heads of two doors have flat pointed arches. The westernmost beam supporting the upper floor is richly moulded. The upper room had an open roof and a fireplace with a stone hood in the east gable. No original openings remain but a blocked window can be seen in the lower room.
The south-eastern angle shows that the building was set agains an older structure aligned north-south.
It is suggested that the building formed a small dwelling, the 'poor lodge' of Pior Chard. The main west room was the hall, with an upper chamber provided with a fire at the opposite end. The lower room would have provided service rooms; the kitchen being outside. Two similar dwellings, both 15th century and occupied by priests, survive in East Devon; chantry House at Combe Raleigh and the Old Rectory, Exminster.


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

Barn. Originally a hall with a large chimney at one end and a roof with arched braces and windbraces.


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

Originally the priors house, built 15th century, with open hall between two storeyed end compartments; arched-braced collar beam roof, principals being joined to wall posts to form jointed raised crucks; original hall-screen surviving.


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

The barn has traces of a later conversion. Good open timber roof with windbraces.


Alcock, N. W., 1981, Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue, 109 (Report - non-specific). SDV342504.


Ordnance Survey, 1982, OS/82219 V, OS/82219 V 1641 03-SEP-1982 (Aerial Photograph). SDV357675.

The refrectory is visible as a rectangular structure with a pitched roof.


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

Of the ranges of buildings that must have once surrounded the medieval cloister of Kerswell Priory only the refectory on the south side is known to have survived the dissolution. Unfortunately the building has suffered from neglect and decay in recent years and in 1984 the building was demolished. At the time of writing the range preserves an almost intact medieval roof with jointed crucks and double wind-braces. However, most of the walls were rebuilt in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The structure was of five bay. The three central bays were occupied by a large room, presumably the communal refectory or frater, separated from single bays to the east and west by closed trusses, that to the west being still intact. Evidence of soot blackening on the roof indicates that each of the three rooms was originally open to the roof. After the dissolution the range was converted into a farmhouse and upper floors were inserted at the east and west ends. The lower room at the east end appears to have been converted to a kitchen with a large fireplace and oven. The upper room at the west end was painted. By the 19th century the building was no longer in use as a farmhouse and was converted to a barn and cattle byre.


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

Building recorded in response to threatened demolition. Late medieval roof of 5 bays with jointed crucks and double windbraces. Originally 2 closed trusses (w one surviving and ?unnoticed by radford) dividing off each end bay.3 central bays formed an open hall. Smoke blackening in hall and e bay. Very little medieval masonry and only 3 openings survive. Hall identified as the refectory, e bay possibly the warming house. In post-medieval times, range adapted to 3-room cross passage house. Upper end to w with inserted first floor chamber (first with painted purlins, later a plaster ceiling), open hall in centre and kitchen with room over to east. Fireplace inserted into east end wall at this time. Screen noted by radford and doe no longer visible. Hall possibly not floored until 19th century by which time the building had become a barn.


Youngs, S. M. + Clark, J. + Barry, T., 1986, Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1985, 114-198 (Article in Serial). SDV24583.


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

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 (see appendix) recorded that the external walls were still standing to varying heights, the west end and most of the north and south walls to about 3.0 metres high and the east wall almost to gable height. The tops of the walls have been capped with cement and some repointing has been done. However, there are cracks in both the north and south walls at the west end. The level of demolition has meant that all the doorways and other ground floor openings have been left intact, including two of medieval date; the doorway in the east hall bay of the north wall and the lo arched opening in the east wall. Some architectural stone fragments were collected during demolition including some window tracery.


Devon County Council, 1987, DAP 6044, DAP 6044/12 23-NOV-1987 (Aerial Photograph). SDV357852.

The roofless shell of the structure is visible, with door and window openings and the walls reduced in height.


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

Stone barn, 69 feet long and is open to the eaves about 20 feet. It is built of stone and presently has a corrugated iron roof and is ideal for storage or stock as it has a concrete floor. It was formerly the refectory when the property was a priory. There is a sliding door, which opens into a small yard, which adjoins the orchard and has a sheep dip.


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


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

After demolition in April 1985 only the lower portions of the main walls remained, although the east gable wall survived to a greater height. The interior is currently used as a patio garden.


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

The south claustral range of Kerswell Prior was largely demolished in 1985. It had been a five-bay structure with a central open hall flanked by single bay rooms, conforming to the most common Devon vernacular house plan of the Late Middle Ages. After the Dissolution the range was converted to a farmhouse and later turned to agricultural use. The walls were of chert rubble and have been much patched and reconstructed. In particular the west wall appears to have been rebuilt entirely and includes some 19th/20th century brick. The centre of the north wall had also been rebuilt in the 19th century to create doorways into a hayloft and the south wall was also extensively rebuilt in the 19th century when its 3 central bays were dismantled and rebuilt to accommodate cattle. However, patches of medieval fabric were found to survive. A doorway in the north gable wall and a window embrasure high up in the south elevation are considered to be of medieval date. A doorway through the north wall into the eastern bay of the hall may also be of medieval date. A plank and muntim screen formerly stood at the eastern end of the refectory but it was no longer extant by 1973. The roof was of oak with a modern slate covering and consisted of 6 jointed cruck trusses. The roof timbers above the hall and eastern bay were smoke-blackened suggesting that these rooms were originally open to the roof. Upper floors were inserted at both ends and it is likely that the central bays were also floored at this time. The upper room at the west end received paintings followed by a plaster ceiling. The east end was converted in a kitchen with a large fireplace and oven, with an upper room in the roofspace. The range underwent substantial rebuilding in the mid-late 19th century providing a cattle byre on the ground floor with a barn above. See article for full details.


Christie, N. + Geake, H. + Gaimster, M. + O'Connor, K. + Sherlock, R., 2007, Medieval Britain and Ireland in 2006, 249-252 (Article in Serial). SDV361695.

Survey of the remains by Exeter Archaeology noted.


English Heritage, 2010, Historic Houses Register (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV154869.

Ruins of the Refectory south of the house at Kerswell Priory. Roofless ruin, originally the refectory of Kerswell Priory. Late 15th/early 16th century origins, although the walls were mostly rebuilt in the 19th and 20th centuries. Stone rubble.
Plan: A rectangular building parallel with the main range of the house. The 5-bay structure was divided into 3 rooms, the 3 central bays occupied by what was probably the communal refectory which, like the small room to the east, was heated by an open hearth. The range was probably converted to a farmhouse after the Dissolution and used as a farmbuilding by the 19th century. It retained a high quality medieval wind-braced roof until 1984, when the roof was removed to Buckfast Abbey and the building was partially demolished.
Exterior: The walls, which have been capped with concrete, survive to a height of about 3 metres, rising to about 5 metres at the east end. The north wall retains 3 doorways and 2 windows associated with the 19th century argicultural use of the building. Although the intrinsic merit of the existing building is slight, it is of special interest in archaeological sense as part of the Priory complex. At the time of the survey (1987) the medieval roof was in storage and could be returned to the building. Date listed: 27th January 1989.


Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R., 2014-2015, East and Mid Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV356883.

The refrectory is visible as a pitched roofed structure on vertical aerial photographs taken in 1982, but as a roofless ruin on oblique aerial photographs taken in 1987, which also demonstrate the loss of the upper walls. The structure is mapped so has not been transcribed as part of this project.


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

Roof taken down and removed to Buckfast Abbey.


Devon County Council Conservation Section, April 1985, Kerswell Priory, 635 (Ground Photograph). SDV112501.


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

The south range of the priory was recorded in August 1984 prior to the intended demolition of the building. The range preserved an almost intact late medieval roof with jointed crucks and double wind braces together with one surviving closed truss. However, most of the walls have been rebuilt in the 19th and 20th centuries. The medieval walling comprises roughly coursed chert with volcanic stone dressings. The rebuilt walls contain a scatter of Beer stone blocks and a few Salcombe stone fragments, presumably derived from the medieval priory buildings. The roof is of oak with a modern slate covering.
The structure is of five bays. The three central bays were occupied by a hall, separated from single bays to east and west by closed trusses, that to the west is intact. A doorway is indicated by a mortice on the north side at ground floor level. There is evidence to indicate that both the hall and the adjacent rooms were open to the roof including the fact that the hall and east room are both smoke blackened. Also noted was the lack of joist/board impressions in the smooth plaster on the north wall of the hall running from 1.20 to 2.9 metres above medieval floor level and that the closed truss contains no floor joist mortices. Three medieval openings are visible; a window embrasure in the western bay, a doorway of fine dress volcanic blocks in the north wall and a low opening with an arched head on the internal face of the east wall.
The west bay did have an early first floor but this was a secondary feature. Allthat survives is the principal joist running across the bay. The lower purlins on the south side of the roof of this bay were painted with foliage scrolls in red and green. The painting was later covered in plaster.
No evidence of early post medieval alterations of the hall survive but since neither the surviving closed truss or small areas of medieval masonry show any signs of instered flooring it is possible that the hall did not in fact receive a first floor until the 19th century.
The east bay was rendered with two layers of plaster in the post medieval period which shows evidence for a small upper room. The lower room was lit by three windows, two preserving oak frames with diagonally set mullions. A large fireplace was inserted into the east gable wall prior to the application of the plaster. A small blocked opening, possibly and oven, and sooting on the gable wall which acted as the rear wall of the flue is all the evidence that survives of an inserted fireplace on the ground floor.
There is no clear evidence to indicate when the building ceased to be used for domestic accommodation. In the 19th century it was used as a barn with cattle stalls on the ground floor. A first floor was inserted into the hall access to which was gained through large double doors built in the north wall. The lost closed truss between the hall and east bay was probably removed at this time. Also at some time in the 19th or 20th century the west gable wall was rebuilt from ground level and a new floor inserted in the east bay. The building has not been used as a barn and cattle stall for some 15 years; the roof deteriorated quickly between 1980 and 1984.
Griffiths and Allen suggest that Radford's interpretation of the building as the priors accommodation with a hall and a large heated first floor chamber is incorrect as the first floors and fireplace are later insertions. The east-west orientation of the range indicates that this was the south range of the priory and that the hall was probably the refectory. The interpretation of the east and west bays is uncertain but the smoke blackened bay to the east, which must have been adjacent to the dorter, may have been the warming room.
After the dissolution the range was adapted to a typical Devon farmhouse; the upper end with first floor chamber at the western end, the hall, possibly still open, in the centre and the kitchen to the east.


Unknown, Aug 1984, Kerswell Priory Barn (Ground Photograph). SDV357861.

Black and white photo of barn roof.


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

Set of black and white photos showing the barn after demolition of the roof and internal features, leaving only the main external walls standing.


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

The Grade II* listed Kerswell Priory Barn was originally a dwelling house of considerable quality with a lofty full-height hall. The fine trussed room remains intact or did until recently. The building has been allowed to reach a state of dereliction and an application for demolition was made in 1980. This was refused following a public enquiry due to the building's architectural and historic importance. The article comments on the lack of action by public bodies and that since that time the building has continued to deteriorate to the point that it is now considered a dangerous structure and a another application for demolition has been made. If approval to demolish is given this time the roof timbers may go to Buckfast Abbey for re-use.


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


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


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

Site visit 11th January 1962. Remains much altered and too slight to make any definite identification.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV112501Ground Photograph: Devon County Council Conservation Section. April 1985. Kerswell Priory. Devon County Council Conservation Section Photo Archive. Photograph (Paper). 635.
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.
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.
SDV154869List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 2010. Historic Houses Register. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV24583Article in Serial: Youngs, S. M. + Clark, J. + Barry, T.. 1986. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1985. Medieval Archaeology. 30. Unknown. 114-198.
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. 25.
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.
SDV342504Report - non-specific: Alcock, N. W.. 1981. Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue. Council for British Archaeology Research Report. 42. Photocopy. 109.
SDV344658Article in Serial: Allan, J. + Young, G.. 2006. The Refectory Range of Kerswell Priory. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 64. Paperback Volume.
SDV344659Report - Survey: Allan, J. P. + Griffiths, D. M.. 1985. Survey of Kerswell Priory Refectory, 1984. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV354910Article in Serial: Allan, J. P. + Griffiths, D. M.. 1985. Kerswell Priory Refectory. Exeter Archaeology 1984/5. A4 Stapled + Digital. 51-53.
SDV356223Report - Survey: Griffiths, D. M., Allan, J. P., Weddell, P. J.. 1986/87. Kerswell Priory. Devon Religious Houses Survey. 25. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV356883Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2014-2015. East and Mid Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. Digital.
SDV357675Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1982. OS/82219 V. Ordnance Survey. Photograph (Paper). OS/82219 V 1641 03-SEP-1982.
SDV357725Article in Serial: Ralegh Radford, C. A.. 1952. Description [of Kerswell Priory]. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 84. Hardback Volume. 118-121.
SDV357732Ground Photograph: Devon County Council Conservation Section. July 1984. Kerswell Priory. Devon County Council Conservation Section Photo Archive. Photograph (Paper) + Digital. 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.
SDV357852Aerial Photograph: Devon County Council. 1987. DAP 6044. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). DAP 6044/12 23-NOV-1987.
SDV357861Ground Photograph: Unknown. Aug 1984. Kerswell Priory Barn. Devon Religious Houses Survey. Photograph (Paper) + Digital.
SDV357863Ground Photograph: Weddell, P. J.. Dec 1986. Kerswell Priory Barn. Devon Religious Houses Survey. Photograph (Paper). 688, 689.
SDV361695Article in Serial: Christie, N. + Geake, H. + Gaimster, M. + O'Connor, K. + Sherlock, R.. 2007. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 2006. Medieval Archaeology. 51. Unknown. 249-252.
SDV57390Article in Serial: Copeland, G. W.. 1964. Proceedings at the 102nd Annual Meeting. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 96. A5 Paperback.
SDV83845Un-published: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1963. Monuments Threatened or Destroyed, 1956-62. Photocopy.

Associated Monuments

MDV1424Part of: Kerswell Priory, Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV44435Related to: Outbuilding 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
  • EDV6530 - The East and Mid-Devon Rivers Catchment NMP project (Ref: ACD613)

Date Last Edited:Aug 23 2018 8:27AM