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HER Number:MDV43872
Name:West Precinct Wall at Tavistock Abbey


Remains of the western precinct wall of Tavistock Abbey are visible between the canal and the Still House, although to the north they are obscured by modern buildings.


Grid Reference:SX 481 742
Map Sheet:SX47SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishTavistock
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTAVISTOCK

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX47SE/1/9
  • Old SAM Ref: 29679

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • WALL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Iles, R., 16/01/1998, Tavistock Abbey (Correspondence). SDV358814.

Ordnance Survey, 1855-1895, First Edition 1:500 Town Map (Cartographic). SDV338879.

Section of wall from the Still House to the north side of the canal shown.

Radford, 1929, Tavistock Abbey, 55-86; plate 16 (Article in Serial). SDV256454.

Turton, S. D. + Weddell, P. J., 1991, Archaeological Assessment of Four Areas of Land Adjoining the River Tavy and Plymouth Road, Tavistock, 4-5; figure 2, plate 3. (Report - Assessment). SDV256444.

West precinct wall. The line of this wall, as shown on 18th century plans, appears to be largely intact. Although not shown on sketch of 1741 its appearance is Medieval. It's northern section between the West Gate and the canal is partly obscured by modern buildings. The southern section from the canal to Still House can be clearly seen. Despite having lost its crenellations it appears to be of the same construction as the original south precinct wall running alongside the river. It has a slate string course at the same level, and putleg holes. The west wall now forms the boundary between the Vicarage and the Bedford Hotel. This section of probable Medieval boundary wall is neither Scheduled nor Listed.

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

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

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

Within area proposed for Scheduling.

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

The monastic precinct wall survives over much of its southern and western circuit and the positions of two gateways are known. A significant section of the monastic wall survives whilst elsewhere its course can be predicted with reasonable confidence. North of Betsy Grimbal's Tower it lies beneath Plymouth Road whilst a long stretch to its south, where it borders The Vicarage, appears to have been replaced by a Post Medieval wall on a slightly different alignment. However, an approximate 26 metre length of precinct wall on its lower western side survives up to wall walk level, and over 85 metres of the southern precinct wall which flanks the River Tavy is considered to be largely Medieval although rebuilt in places. Where it survives the precinct wall is 1 metre thick, of Hurdwick stone, and has a pseudo-defensive character of a Late Medieval monastic boundary wall with a string course and a crenellated parapet (partly rebuilt in the 19th century) fronting a wall walk 3.2 metres above ground level. At the junction of the south and west precinct walls in the extreme south-west corner is a small square, two storied tower known as the Still Tower or Still House.

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

Feature included in the digital survey of the standing remains of Tavistock Abbey undertaken in 2001.

West Devon Borough Council, 2009, Tavistock Conservation Area Management Plan, 21, 40 (Report - non-specific). SDV351411.

Repairs are needed to some of the abbey remains, including some of the abbey precinct walls.

Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

Rodwell, K. A., 30/06/1995, A Survey of Tavistock Abbey Precinct Wall, 1-2 (Report - Survey). SDV256456.

The west wall and and its walk are very overgrown, so that the external face and the area around the canal are not currently visible. Beyond the canal it appears to have been replaced by outbuildings, but this has not been investigated in detail. See report for full details and drawings of elevations.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV249301Article in Serial: Freeman, M. + Wans, J.. 1996. Tavistock Abbey: Alternative Interpretations. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 128. A5 Paperback.
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. 4-5; figure 2, plate 3..
SDV256454Article in Serial: Radford. 1929. Tavistock Abbey. Transactions of the Exeter Diocese Architectural and Archaeological Society. 4.2. Unknown. 55-86; plate 16.
SDV256456Report - Survey: Rodwell, K. A.. 30/06/1995. A Survey of Tavistock Abbey Precinct Wall. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1-2.
SDV338879Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1855-1895. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. Map (Digital).
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #91972 ]
SDV344347Report - Assessment: Exeter Archaeology. 1997. Archaeological Assessment of Tavistock Sewer Overflows Scheme. Exeter Archaeology Report. 97.02. A4 Stapled + Digital. 4.
SDV344375Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2001. Tavistock Abbey. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV351411Report - non-specific: West Devon Borough Council. 2009. Tavistock Conservation Area Management Plan. West Devon Borough Council Report. a4 Stapled + Digital. 21, 40.
SDV358814Correspondence: Iles, R.. 16/01/1998. Tavistock Abbey. Letter. A4 Single Sheet + Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV3919Part of: Tavistock Abbey (Monument)
MDV43871Related to: Betsy Grimbal's Tower, Tavistock (Building)
MDV43875Related to: South Precinct Wall of Tavistock Abbey (Building)
MDV43873Related to: Still House, Tavistock Abbey (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4597 - Assessment of Tavistock Sewer Overflow Scheme

Date Last Edited:Jul 28 2015 9:34AM