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HER Number:MDV43870
Name:Tavistock Abbey Church

Summary

Site of the 10th century Tavistock Abbey Church destroyed after the dissolution in 1539

Location

Grid Reference:SX 481 744
Map Sheet:SX47SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishTavistock
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTAVISTOCK

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX47SE/1/7
  • Old SAM County Ref: 96
  • Old SAM Ref: 29679

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CHURCH (VIII to XVII - 701 AD to 1700 AD (Between))

Full description

Radford, E. L., 1932 - 1933, The Buildings of Tavistock Abbey after the Dissolution, 195-203 (Article in Serial). SDV249296.

Tavistock Abbey Church. The abbey church and cloisters were destroyed soon after the dissolution in 1539. The Frater and Dorter were retained, and the abbots hall used as the dwelling house. There is a 16th century description of the buildings of the abbey and their condition at the time, and a similar account of the 17th century. Some time after 1716 a new house was built, at the same time destroying much of what remained of the abbey buildings. In the 19th century the building of the new road involved the dumping of soil in the churchyard. The abbey church was excavated in 1914, 13th century plasterwork and 14th century tiles were found in situ and the layout of the church and cloister was clarified. The four gates of the abbey are described. Other buildings stood in the outer court but their positions are difficult to locate. Map object based on this Source.

Turton, S. D. + Weddell, P. J., 1991, Archaeological Assessment of Four Areas of Land Adjoining the River Tavy and Plymouth Road, Tavistock, 3 (Report - Assessment). SDV256444.

Saxon and Norman layout not known.

The Tavistock and District Local History Society, 1994, About Tavistock: An Historical Introduction and Six Town Walks, 10, 35, 37, 40 (Monograph). SDV354806.

Department of Environment, 1994, Tavistock Abbey (Correspondence). SDV338871.

Schedule Monument Consent granted for works to the Court Gate; repair of cracked gable wall of Masonic hall, reinstatement of 1st floor classroom ceiling and repairs to library floor.

Freeman, M. + Wans, J., 1996, Tavistock Abbey: Alternative Interpretations, 17-34 (Article in Serial). SDV249301.

South West Water, 1996-1997, Tavistock Photographs (Ground Photograph). SDV354597.

Photographs of the excavations if the abbey walls and burials.

Exeter Archaeology, 1997, Archaeological Assessment of Tavistock Sewer Overflows Scheme, 4-5 (Report - Assessment). SDV344347.

The eastern side of Tavistock Abbey's precinct extended into Bedford Square. Excavation in 1961 revealed the site of the Abbey Church and exposed a great quantity of human bone and building debris including tiles. The foundations of a wall was identified and interpreted as the south wall of the Choir.

Stead, P. M., 1997 - 1999, Archaeological Investigations in the Vicinity of Tavistock Abbey 1997-1999 (Report - non-specific). SDV338870.

The drainage trench cut across the east end of the abbey church in 1997 revealing the foundations of a number of walls and three high status monastic graves. Two of the graves contained chalices and fragments of clothing. The Tavistock enhancement scheme in 1999 exposed a further medieval wall and tiled floor in the east end of the abbey church.

Salvatore, J. P., 1999, 144445. (Personal Comment). SDV256388.

The greatest building within the abbey would have been its church and its buried remains have been located to the south of the parish church of St Eustachius and in Bedford Square. Excavations in Bedford Square in 1997 revealed walls of the choir and aisles to north and south belonging to the east end of the Abbey Church. Three burials discovered at the same time appear certain to be those of high ranking members of the abbey's religious community; pewter chalices had been placed at the head of two of the burials. They had been buried within the walls of their abbey church in a privileged position close to the altar. To the west of Bedford Square, an excavation in 1920 in St Eustachius's graveyard established the location of a wall interpreted as the north wall of the nave, a small inscribed stone marks its position. About 11 meters to its south is a small part of the south wall of the nave and part of the inner wall of the west claustral range which survive as standing masonry remains. From these fragmentary remains, and from William of Worcestre's measurements of 1478, the abbey church can be estimated, to have been about 67 metres in length although observations in 1999 suggest that the east end of the church was extended at some time during its life prior the dissolution of 1539. The nave of the church would have been about 11 metres wide and it would have provided the north range of a claustral suite which would have enclosed a cloister garden perhaps 25 metres square.

Stead, P. M., 1999, Archaeological Investigations at Tavistock Abbey 1997-1999, 149-203 (Article in Serial). SDV336200.

The east end of the abbey church was exposed during the excavation of a sewer trench in 1997 and during an enhancement scheme in 1999 in the south of Bedford Square at SX48177441. Fragments of nine complete plain medieval floor tiles were excavated circa 100 millimetres square by 15 millimetres thick.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2001, Tavistock Abbey (Schedule Document). SDV344375.

Blaylock, S. R., 2001, Tavistock Abbey: Further Recording of the Standing Fabric (Report - non-specific). SDV256395.

The digital survey undertaken in 2001 established a revised position of the church and cloisters. Map object based on this Source.

Bradley, J. + Gaimster, M., 2004, Medieval Britain and Ireland in 2003, 255-257 (Article in Serial). SDV342122.

Tavistock, Tavistock Abbey (SX4815 7441). Upstanding building recording, new survey to establish interrelationship of surviving elements (ongoing) and geophysical survey performed by GSB prospection of much of the east half of the churchyard of Saint Eustachius Church showed substantial material surviving of the nave and north aisle.

South West Water, Unknown, Exhibition of Archaeological Discoveries in Tavistock (Leaflet). SDV354596.

Archaeological excavations in connection with works to improve the sewer scheme in 1997 revealed four massive parallel walls. The walls, 2-3m thick and aligned east to west proved to be the foundations for the east end of the abbey church. Three burials were also recorded which had lain at the base of the walls, probably close to the high altar.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV249296Article in Serial: Radford, E. L.. 1932 - 1933. The Buildings of Tavistock Abbey after the Dissolution. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 17. Unknown. 195-203.
SDV249301Article in Serial: Freeman, M. + Wans, J.. 1996. Tavistock Abbey: Alternative Interpretations. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 128. A5 Paperback. 17-34.
SDV256388Personal Comment: Salvatore, J. P.. 1999. 144445.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Unknown.
SDV256395Report - non-specific: Blaylock, S. R.. 2001. Tavistock Abbey: Further Recording of the Standing Fabric. Exeter Archaeology Report. 01.82. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV256444Report - Assessment: Turton, S. D. + Weddell, P. J.. 1991. Archaeological Assessment of Four Areas of Land Adjoining the River Tavy and Plymouth Road, Tavistock. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 91.33. A4 Stapled + Digital. 3.
SDV336200Article in Serial: Stead, P. M.. 1999. Archaeological Investigations at Tavistock Abbey 1997-1999. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 57. Paperback Volume. 149-203.
SDV338870Report - non-specific: Stead, P. M.. 1997 - 1999. Archaeological Investigations in the Vicinity of Tavistock Abbey 1997-1999. Exeter Archaeology Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV338871Correspondence: Department of Environment. 1994. Tavistock Abbey. The Schedule of Monuments. Letter.
SDV342122Article in Serial: Bradley, J. + Gaimster, M.. 2004. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 2003. Medieval Archaeology. 48. Unknown. 255-257.
SDV344347Report - Assessment: Exeter Archaeology. 1997. Archaeological Assessment of Tavistock Sewer Overflows Scheme. Exeter Archaeology Report. 97.02. A4 Stapled + Digital. 4-5.
SDV344375Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2001. Tavistock Abbey. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV354596Leaflet: South West Water. Unknown. Exhibition of Archaeological Discoveries in Tavistock. A4 Folded + digital.
SDV354597Ground Photograph: South West Water. 1996-1997. Tavistock Photographs. Photocopy + Digital.
SDV354806Monograph: The Tavistock and District Local History Society. 1994. About Tavistock: An Historical Introduction and Six Town Walks. About Tavistock: An Historical Introduction and Six Town Walks. A5 Paperback. 10, 35, 37, 40.

Associated Monuments

MDV127453Parent of: Monastic graves under Bedford Square, Tavistock (Monument)
MDV3919Part of: Tavistock Abbey (Monument)
MDV3922Related to: Porch of Abbey Chapel, Tavistock (Building)
MDV71905Related to: Remains of Cloister and Abbey Church Walls (Building)
MDV67441Related to: St. Eustachius Churchyard, Tavistock (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FDV1031 - BONE NON SPECIFIC (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FDV1478 - TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDV4255 - Investigations at Tavistock Sewer Improvement Scheme
  • EDV4256 - Tavistock Town Centre Enhancement Works
  • EDV4597 - Assessment of Tavistock Sewer Overflow Scheme

Date Last Edited:Feb 6 2020 11:01AM