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HER Number:MDV30305
Name:Abbey Church at Dunkeswell Abbey

Summary

Site of the Abbey Church at Dunkeswell Abbey which was built in the 13th century and dissolved in the 16th century. The 19th century parish church was built on the site of the Abbey Church but sections of the Medieval walling survive in the later churchyard walls

Location

Grid Reference:ST 142 107
Map Sheet:ST11SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishDunkeswell
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishDUNKESWELL

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 188992
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: ST11SW/3/1
  • Old SAM County Ref: 228
  • Old SAM Ref: 24841
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: ST11SW15

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CHURCH (XII to XVI - 1200 AD to 1600 AD (Between))

Full description

Simcoe Family, Simcoe Sketches (Record Office Collection). SDV345807.

In the 19th century the Simcoe family spent much time recording and sketching the ruins of the Abbey Church. There are two books of sketches in the collection. Some are originals and some are copies and some are reconstructions made by Sparks. A reconstructed plan of the church is given which includes nave (with aisles), choir and transepts (without aisles). The most unlikely interpretation is that of the 'Outer Court' at the east end which was said to be a protection against floodwaters, it may just be a lengthening of the Presbytery. Other details: DRO 2331Z.


Oliver, G., 1846, Monasticon Diocesis Exoniensis, 393 (Monograph). SDV57424.

Dunkeswell Abbey Church (approximately 56 metres by 16 metres). The site is occupied by the Church of the Holy Trinity, and its burial ground which was consecrated in 1842.


Whitley, H. M., 1914 - 1915, Dunkeswell Abbey, 34 (Article in Serial). SDV123600.

Author states that the Abbey Church had transepts with east chapels, though the basis for this is unclear.


Everett, A. W., 1938 - 1939, A Survey of Dunkeswell Abbey, 18-20 (Article in Serial). SDV136049.

The lower part of the churchyard wall incorporates part of the west wall of the Abbey Church. The west end of the north wall remains 4.2 metres long with chamfered plinth and diagonal buttress. Parts of the north and east walls survive in the north-east corner of the churchyard wall.


Ministry of Works, 1948, Dunkeswell Abbey (Schedule Document). SDV345801.

Dunkeswell Abbey includes the remains of a Cistercian Abbey founded by William Bruere in 1201 and colonised from Ford Abbey. The Abbey adopted the Bruere Arms of two wavy bands. It was valued at £300 per annum at the Dissolution in 1539 and given to John Russell, Earl of Bedford. Risdon in 1630 stated "Its ruins lie low in the dusk". The lower half of the west wall of the Abbey Church forms the western boundary of the modern churchyard with remains of a chamfered plinth and diagonal buttress. A small piece of the south wall is attached to the southern end of the west wall. The Abbey Church measured 185 feet (56.39 metres) by 54 feet (16.46 metres). The founder and his wife, Beatrice de Vaux were buried there in 1227. The walls consist of rubble faced with small roughly squared flints laid in regular courses. Fragments of small Purbeck columns have been found. The chancel floor of the modern church includes some Medieval tiles from the old church with one showing an elephant and castle. In 1877 the western tower had recently fallen. Later accounts say the ruins are in a poor state only held together by ivy. Other details: Monument 228.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1962, ST11SW15 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV345808.

The remains are very slight and in a poor state of repair. The plinth is no longer visible.


Allan, J. P. + Keen, L., 1983, Medieval Floor Tiles in Exeter Museum, 135-136 (Article in Serial). SDV123604.

Tiles from the floor of the Abbey Church were re-laid in the modern church. Pavement contains examples of distorted and discoloured tiles, suggestive of local production. Some of the stamps from this pavement are found in Somerset pavements and in a series re-laid in the ambulatory of Ottery St. Mary church.


Weddell, P. J., 1986, Dunkeswell (Report - Assessment). SDV123603.

The west end of the churchyard wall is heavily covered in ivy. There is possibly an additional fragment of the Abbey wall to the south of the modern gate. The fabric in the north-east corner is in a poor state of repair and is best seen from the outside of the churchyard. The south churchyard wall appears to contain no fabric of the Abbey Church in situ. The character of the south end of the east wall of the churchyard is not certain. The 19th century church has the coffin thought to be that of the founder William Brewer on display.


Blaylock, S. R., 1989, Dunkeswell Abbey, Devon. A Survey of the Standing Remains (Report - Survey). SDV136090.

The south-east corner of the Abbey Church is incorporated in the the standing fabric of the west range. Otherwise remains are very fragmentary and incorporated in the churchyard wall. To the north of the path the core and inside face of the church wall survive. Removal of debris against the outer face in two places revealed wall surviving to the original thickness and that in places the chamfered plinth survives. Part of the north wall survives in similar manner.


Gibbons, P., 1993, 134673 (Un-published). SDV123660.

Dunkeswell Abbey includes the remains of a Cistercian Abbey founded by William Bruere in 1201. The lower half of the west wall of the Abbey Church forms the western boundary of the modern churchyard with remains of a chamfered plinth and diagonal buttress. A small piece of the south wall is attached to the southern end of the west wall. The Abbey Church measured 185 feet (56.39 metres) by 54 feet (16.46 metres). The founder and his wife, Beatrice de Vaux were buried there in 1227. The walls consist of rubble faced with small roughly squared flints laid in regular courses. Fragments of small Purbeck columns have been found. The chancel floor of the modern church includes some Medieval tiles from the old church with one showing an elephant and castle. In 1877 the western tower had recently fallen. During construction of the present church, the Simcoe family planned the exposed foundations of the Abbey Church. Two burials were disturbed at that time.


Horner, B., 1993, DAP/VV, 12-16 (Aerial Photograph). SDV112612.


Department of National Heritage, 1994, Dunkeswell Abbey (Schedule Document). SDV345802.

Dunkeswell Abbey falls into two areas and includes the known extent of the upstanding and buried remains of a Cistercian Abbey in occupation between 1201 and 1539 and its associated fishponds. The visible remains of the Abbey exist as a number of ruined and adapted structures laid out in the traditional monastic plan in which a church and ranges of two storied buildings were grouped around the central square open court of the cloister, with ancillary buildings further from the nucleus. Remains of the Abbey Church are incorporated into the graveyard of a Victorian church. The walls are of random rubble construction utilising local chert and flint, roughly squared into blocks, with ashlar and carved details in sandstone, and Ham and Beer limestone. The Abbey Church was of cruciform plan, aligned east-west, and about 56 metres in length. The south-west corner of the nave joins with the north-east corner of the west range. Sections of the west front, up to 1.4 metres in height, are visible in the boundary walls of the graveyard, and include the north-west corner of the church and a 7.5 metre length of the north wall. The width of the nave was 17.2 metres. The position of the north transept is marked by a raised area in the field to the north of the Victorian church. Part of the north wall of the presbytery is visible, some 2 metres in height, at the east end of the north wall of the graveyard. The east wall of the graveyard is on the alignment of the east wall of the presbytery. The dimensions and alignments of these walls indicate that the nave of the Abbey Church was aisled on its south side. The cloister stood to the south of the Abbey Church.
In the mid-19th century the Simcoe family made sketches of the ruins and were instrumental in building the present church on the site of the Abbey Church in 1841-2. This involved the clearance of parts of the ruins and the reuse of the stone. During the construction of the present church the Simcoe family made a plan of the exposed foundations of the Abbey Church. The plan is difficult to understand and interpret. Two burials were disturbed at that time. In 1913, parchmarks were recorded that show the extent of the east cloister range. In 1959, the Dunkeswell Abbey Preservation Fund was founded to preserve, repair and restore the ruins of the abbey. In 1989 a detailed fabric survey was undertaken of the gatehouse, north end of the west range, and parts of the west front of the Abbey Church. The scheduling comprises two areas enclosing what is currently recognised as the extent of the Abbey and fishponds. Within the designated areas the following are excluded: the modern church and graveyard extension; all dwellings, modern farm buildings, made-up roads and tracks; power-cable poles; garages, sheds and footbridges; and gate and fence posts, although the ground beneath all these features, with the exception of the graveyard extension, is included. Other details: Monument 24841.


Hunt, A., 2000, An Earthwork Survey of Dunkeswell Abbey, 215-226 (Article in Serial). SDV136064.


National Monuments Record, 2010, 188992 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV123617.

Dunkeswell Abbey Church. The modern parish church of the Holy Trinity [AD 1842] stands within the site of the Abbey Church. The present churchyard more or less occupies the site of the church. The lower part of the west wall of the Abbey Church forms the west boundary of the churchyard. Adjoining this is about 14 foot (4.27 metres) of the north wall showing a chamfered plinth; at the angle are the remains of a diagonal buttress. A small piece of the south wall is attached to the south end of the west wall. At the north-east corner of the churchyard are parts of north and east walls of the choir. The Abbey Church would, according to the remains, have been 185 feet (25.9 metres) long and nave and choir to be 54 feet (16.46 metres) wide. Other details: ST11SW15.


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

Church of Holy Trinity in Dunkeswell was Listed on 16th March 1988. Church, built on the site of Dunkeswell Abbey Church in 1842. Other details: LBS Number 86574.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV112612Aerial Photograph: Horner, B.. 1993. DAP/VV. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 12-16.
SDV123600Article in Serial: Whitley, H. M.. 1914 - 1915. Dunkeswell Abbey. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 8. Unknown. 34.
SDV123603Report - Assessment: Weddell, P. J.. 1986. Dunkeswell. Devon Religious Houses Survey. 11. A4 Stapled.
SDV123604Article in Serial: Allan, J. P. + Keen, L.. 1983. Medieval Floor Tiles in Exeter Museum. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 41. Paperback Volume. 135-136.
SDV123617National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2010. 188992. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV123660Un-published: Gibbons, P.. 1993. 134673. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Unknown.
SDV136049Article in Serial: Everett, A. W.. 1938 - 1939. A Survey of Dunkeswell Abbey. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 20. Unknown. 18-20.
SDV136064Article in Serial: Hunt, A.. 2000. An Earthwork Survey of Dunkeswell Abbey. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 58. Paperback Volume. 215-226.
SDV136090Report - Survey: Blaylock, S. R.. 1989. Dunkeswell Abbey, Devon. A Survey of the Standing Remains. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 89.05. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV154869List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 2010. Historic Houses Register. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV345801Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1948. Dunkeswell Abbey. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV345802Schedule Document: Department of National Heritage. 1994. Dunkeswell Abbey. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled. [Mapped feature: #16964 ]
SDV345807Record Office Collection: Simcoe Family. Simcoe Sketches. Devon Record Office Collection. Unknown.
SDV345808Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1962. ST11SW15. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV57424Monograph: Oliver, G.. 1846. Monasticon Diocesis Exoniensis. Monasticon Diocesis Exoniensis. Unknown. 393.

Associated Monuments

MDV1890Part of: Dunkeswell Abbey (Monument)
MDV1892Related to: Dunkeswell Abbey, Bells (Find Spot)
MDV12618Related to: Cloisters at Dunkeswell Abbey (Monument)
MDV1891Related to: COAT OF ARMS in the Parish of Dunkeswell (Monument)
MDV44192Related to: Dunkeswell Abbey, Building (Monument)
MDV63464Related to: Dunkeswell Abbey, Garden (Monument)
MDV1893Related to: Dunkeswell Abbey, Grave (Monument)
MDV13990Related to: Dunkeswell Abbey, Tile (Find Spot)
MDV30306Related to: East Range at Dunkeswell Abbey (Monument)
MDV12616Related to: Fishponds at Dunkeswell Abbey (Monument)
MDV12617Related to: Gatehouse at Dunkeswell Abbey (Building)
MDV30308Related to: Holy Trinity Parish Church at Dunkeswell (Building)
MDV30307Related to: South Range at Dunkeswell Abbey (Monument)
MDV12615Related to: West Range at Dunkeswell Abbey (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Nov 16 2010 9:53AM