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HER Number (PRN):01466
Name:Augustinian (Austin) Friary, Shrewsbury
Type of Record:Monument
Protected Status:Conservation Area: Shrewsbury

Monument Type(s):

  • FRIARY (UAD Date Info 1254-5 to 1538, 13th century to 16th century - 1200 AD to 1538 AD)
  • AUGUSTINIAN FRIARY (13th century to 16th century - 1254 AD to 1538 AD)


In 1254 the site for the friary was granted to the friars by the king. The church was completed by 1300. A plot of land for building was given to the friars in 1298 and in 1337 the friars were given the 'New Work' (PRN 01459) along the river. They acquired another 13 acres to extend their site in 1363. Provincial chapters were held here in the 1380s, but in the 15th century standards and numbers declined. In 1456 there were only 6 friars. At the Dissolution in 1538 there were only 2 friars and the buildings were ruinous.

Parish:Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury and Atcham, Shropshire
Map Sheet:SJ41SE
Grid Reference:SJ 4874 1265

Related records

08212Parent of: Augustinian Friary cemetery, Shrewsbury (Monument)
01455Parent of: Montgomery's Tower (Romaldesham Postern) (Monument)
62558Parent of: Remains of internal or external Friary wall running NW along St Austins Friars (Monument)
60297Parent of: Remains of possible friary courtyard or former course of St Austin's Friars (Monument)
01459Parent of: Shrewsbury Town Wall: The New Work (Monument)
62556Parent of: The Refectory, Augustinian Friary (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FSA380 - ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1540 AD)

Associated Events

  • ESA2004 - 1960 field observation by the Ordnance Survey
  • ESA2005 - 1995 field observation by SCCAS
  • ESA2006 - 1995 field observation by SCCAS
  • ESA3795 - 1932 find of architectural fragment in Augustinian Friary area
  • ESA3796 - 1995 emergency recording of groundworks in the Augustinian Friary area by SCCAS
  • ESA6137 - 2007 Archaeological Investigations at St Austin's Friars, Shrewsbury by SCCAS
  • ESA6585 - 2011 DBA and site visit of land at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College by SCAS
  • ESA6649 - 2011 trial excavation on land at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College by Earthworks Archaeological Services
  • ESA6682 - 2012 WB at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College by Castlering Archaeology
  • ESA4908 - 1996 DBA and buildings assessment of land between Victoria Avenue and Lower Claremont Bank, Shrewsbury by Richard K Morriss & Associates
  • ESA4907 - 1997 Evaluation at corner of Victoria Avenue and St Austin's Friars, Shrewsbury by SCCAS
  • ESA4905 - 1997 evaluation of land at St Austin's Friars and Lower Claremont Bank, Shrewsbury by SCCAS
  • ESA7303 - 1998 site visit to St Austin's Friars and Claremont Bank, Shrewsbury by SCCAS


HISTORY: A deed to the Friary is dated as early as 1255 <1a>
Alternative date for foundation is 1269 [<1b>], and it is not certain when the grant of 1255 was used. In 1295 Geoffrey Randolph granted a piece of land outside the walls of the town near the postern gate of Rumboldsham (SA 1455) upon which they may build and the Friary was built in the following five years <1c>
The remains were demolished in 1941 <1d>

Cemetery: A figure enclosed in lead, probably one of the knights who fell in the battle of Shrewsbury, some of whom known to have been buried within the Friary precincts, was found in 1910, at c SJ4873 1262. <2>

Six skeletons found at SJ4876 1262 at a depth of 7 feet, side by side and without any evidence of a covering. <3>

A few pieces of moulded tracery (E English window tracery?), found when foundations being dug for the Priory School. The church was described as ruinous in 1538. <4>

Church: C SJ4873 1262. Moulded stones, perhaps the door jambs of St Austin's Friary, found in 1960 during work for a gas main. <5>

Dovecote, Malthouse and Tan House: c SJ488 126 (St Austin's St). The area of St Austin's Street was known as ye ffryers in 1712, and contained land known as ye ffey which contained a pigeon house, malthouse, and tan house. <6>

Other features: Wall, roadway and culvert were found in 1901. <7>

A plain, barn-like building of weather worn red sandstone remained in 1911. <8>

The chapel in Barker St was in use as a malthouse in the C18, and converted into a coach house and houses in 1764 and antique church doors altered. <9>

A visit on the 21/7/95 revealed that a trench of a new drain had been cut N/S through the yard surface to the rear of the SW corner of the Morris's Bakery warehouse building. The tops of two parallel sandstone walls had been revealed at a depth of about 0.6m below the yard surface. The walls were of rectangular, faced blocks of purple sandstone bonded in a buff mortar, and were aligned approximately E/W. The foundations of the warehouse, subsequently demolished, were seen to have been built over these walls. On a visit in December 1995 it was noted that another trench had been opened to insert an electricity cable. Although there was only a brief opportunity for inspection, it was noted that two further E/W sandstone walls had been exposed. The walls appeared to be linked with a third wall or possible stone floor at a depth of about 0.8m . Stratified deposits were seen in the trench section either side of the walls at a depth of 0.6m. The sandstone walls almost certainly represent remains of the Augustinian Friary which once occupied this site. <10>

Evaluated for MPP in 1990-1, as one of less than 10 Friaries. <11>

Detailed documentary research and a programme of archaeological assessment was carried out of the friary site, as part of a desk-top study undertaken in 1997. This included an evaluation of the likely survival of elements of the friary below-ground, including of the refectory (PRN 62556), the last standing fragment of the friary buildings. A plan from Morris & Co of 1940, reproduced in the report, shows the layout of this standing remains of the friary prior to their demolition in 1941/2. <15>

UAD Assessment of the site: ->

-> HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: According to the VCH [<12>] the Augustinian Friary at Shrewsbury was founded within a year of that at Ludlow, giving the Shrewsbury foundation a date of 1254-5. In September 1254 the site was granted to the friars, the 'poor brethren of Coulon', by the king, at the petition of the burgesses and the parishioners of St Mary 's (in whose parish, in an area known as Cowlone to the north of the castle, they had been settled). The new site given them was said to be 'where the dead had been buried during the Interdict' [<12>]. In 1269 the king gave 10 marks towards their building, and in 1283 a pittance of 13s 4d for two days which, says VCH, suggests a community of 20 friars. According to Owen & Blakeway [<13>], while their church was being built, the friars held their services in 'a simple chamber'; building work was still in progress in the 1290s, but the church was completed by 1300. A plot of land for building outside the Rumoldesham Postern was given to the friars in 1298 by Geoffrey Randolf. In 1337 the friars were given the 'New Work' along the river; they were allowed to make a postern in the town wall to give access to Romboldesham, and they acquired another 13 acres to extend their site in 1363 [<12>]. Provincial chapters were held here in 1383, 1389, and 1400, and the house was an important one. Standards and numbers declined in the 15th century and in 1456 there were only six resident friars. Violent disputes marked the friars' final years, with many cases of affray, trespass, and debt appearing in the borough records between 1500 and 1538. In 1536 people were recorded carting stones away from the friary and the prior was to be imprisoned for selling the goods of the house. The king's commissioners dissolving the house in 1538 found only two friars, few goods, and the buildings ruinous [<12>]. ->

-> ARCHAEOLOGY: Very limited recorded physical remains, none now known above ground. Even the most general layout of the site-the position, size, orientation, of the church and claustral ranges-has not been established. The so-called Refectory building stood into the 1940s and was fairly comprehensively sketched/photographed, but its original role is not known, though its height suggests that it may just possibly have been associated with the church rather than one of the other friary ranges; if so, the main body of the church is likely to have been to the south. The precinct is most likely to have been bounded by the town ditch on the east, the quarry on the south, the river and the New Work to the north. The westward extent of the precinct has not been established. Sporadic discoveries of burials suggest a cemetery, probably the Lay cemetery, occupying the south-east quarter of the site, in the area of Priory Road and the 6th Form College, possibly confined south of the St Austin's Friars lane and the wall there recorded by J A Morris in 1901. The origins of the St Austin's Friars lane whether medieval, post-Dissolution, or post-Dissolution reflecting pre-Dissolution features, is unknown. Morris also noted that 'When the foundations for the Priory Schools were being excavated, several paved paths and foundations of walls were discovered, which suggested that this might have been the site of the Prior's residence [<14>]. <16>

In 2007 work was carried out to relocate the school house building (PRN 10116) from Bridge Street (see ESA 6138) to land at St Austin’s Friars, Shrewsbury. On the St Austin’s Friar site, in advance of the reconstruction of the School house, a sample area 10 metres long by 5 metres wide was excavated, and a watching brief was maintained on ground disturbance associated with the development. The excavation revealed nothing to distinguish occupation on the site as belonging to a religious house. However a truncated gully of unknown function cut into the natural subsoil and a pit – probably a cess pit - containing 12th- to 13th-century pottery was identified. These features were sealed by yard surfaces and stratified soil deposits containing a significant assemblage of pottery dating from the 12th to 14th centuries. These deposits were sealed by a layer containing crushed red sandstone. The lack of mortar within this deposit suggests it is more likely to represent construction rather than demolition debris, although this is not conclusive. The deposit was not connected to any structural feature. A further succession of deposits included a dark grey brown sandy silt with 13th -15th century pottery. A red sandstone wall of probable late medieval or early post-medieval date was also seen to underlie the foundations of the 18th-century cottage 3 St Austin's Friars. <17>

A desk-based assessment was undertaken in August 2011 in connection with proposals for the erection of a new teaching block on the site of Shrewsbury Sixth Form College. This concluded that the development stood within the cemetery of the friary, where previously human remains have been recorded. <18>

Subsequent to the desk-based assessment (see <18>), an archaeological evaluation, consisting of two trial trenches and a test pit was undertaken in advance of proposals to construct a new teaching block at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College. The severely truncated remains of two early nineteenth cellared building were recorded, but there were no surviving archaeological contexts demonstrably earlier than the late seventeenth century. A narrow strip of archaeology between the two buildings was identified, comprising a ground surface and a soil layer containing finds dateable to the late seventeenth century. A single sherd of residual medieval pottery was noted. <19>

No archaeological features were recorded during a watching brief on the construction of a new access at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College, on the site of the friary. The areas investigated had been subject to extensive disturbance during the second half of the 20th century. <20>

Two substantial sandstone walls were noted during emergency recording on the site of Morris's Bakery, Victoria Avenue, Welsh Bridge in 1995. They could not be fully recorded but likely represent compoentns of the last standing fragment of the friary (PRN 62566) which was demolished in 1942. See also <10>. <21><22>

An evaluation was carried out along Victoria Avenue in 1997 in the NW corner of the friary site; no structures, features or deposits associated with the friary were recorded. Post-medieval dumping deposits of over 3m depth were recorded indicating either gradual tipping onto the river bank over a period of up to 100 years or the result of a single operation designed to raise the ground level here above the winter flood level. <23>

A programme of archaeological evaluation, comprising three trial trenches was undertaken at St Austin's Friars and Lower Claremont Bank, Shrewsbury. The remains of the east wall of a building which almost certainly belonged to the friary were seen in trench A of this evaluation. In addition, a pebble surface was recorded in trench A, perhaps representing a yard or possibly the edge of a road or pathway into the friary, a medieval precursor to the present St Austin's Friars road. <24>

A number of sandstone walls were exposed during a site visit on 25th June 1998 during ongoing work on the site. They lay within the precinct of the friary, within an area of sandstone rubble and buried soils which had been exposed by the removal of modern yard surface. They almost certainly belong to the medieval friary. <25>


[00]SSA20722 - Card index: Shropshire County Council SMR. Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards. SMR record cards. SMR Card for PRN SA 01466.
[01b]SSA359 - Monograph: Knowles D & Hadcock N. 1953. Medieval Religious Houses of England and Wales. p202, 72 List of amendments 1957.
[01d]SSA5602 - Volume: Anon. 1941/ 1943. Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society. Transactions Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Vol 51. piii, pviii-ix.
[01a]SSA5604 - Article in serial: Drinkwater C H. 1907. The Augustinian Friars, Shrewsbury. Trans Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Ser 3, Vol VII (=Vol 30). p105-114.
[01c]SSA5606 - Article in serial: Weyman H T. 1929/ 1930. Article in the Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society. Trans Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Ser 4, Vol XII (=Vol 45). p131.
[01]SSA5607 - Card index: Ordnance Survey. 1960. Ordnance Survey Record Card SJ41SE85 . Ordnance Survey record cards. SJ41SE85 .
[02]SSA5603 - Article in serial: Auden T. 1909/ 1912. Archaeological Report. Trans Caradoc Severn Valley Fld Club. Vol 5. p259-260.
[03]SSA5605 - Article in serial: Morris J A. 1910. Human Remains Found at Shrewsbury. Trans Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Ser 3, Vol X (=Vol 33). pxi-xiii.
[04]SSA2724 - Volume: Anon. 1931/ 1932. Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society. Transactions Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Vol 46. p53-54, p56.
[05]SSA2738 - Volume: Anon. 1951/ 1953. Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society. Transactions Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Vol 54. px.
[06]SSA365 - Monograph: Hobbs J L. 1954. Street Names of Shrewsbury. p94.
[07]SSA5579 - Manuscript: Anon. Scrap Book of Plans/ Phillips MS. .9.
[08]SSA4134 - Monograph: Forrest H E. 1911. Old Houses of Shrewsbury. p9-10, p58-59.
[09]SSA1219 - Monograph: Phillips T. 1779. History and Antiquities of Shrewsbury. p108.
[10]SSA5608 - Site visit report: Hannaford Hugh R. 1996. Visit Notes, 1996.
[11]SSA20084 - TEXT: Horton Wendy B. 1990/ 1991. MPP Evaluation File.
[12]SSA540 - Volume: Gaydon A T (ed). 1973. Victoria County History 2: Ecclesiastical Organisation, Religious Houses, Schools and Sports. Victoria County History of Shropshire. Vol 2. p96-97.
[13]SSA623 - Monograph: Owen H & Blakeway J B. 1822. History of Shrewbury. Vol 1.
[14]SSA10447 - Article in serial: Morris J A. 1931/ 1932. Austin Friars and the Town Drainage. Trans Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Vol 46. p46,p51-57.
[15]SSA10661 - Deskbased survey report: Morriss Richard K. 1996. The Welsh Bridge Development, Shrewsbury: an Archaeological Desk-top Study. Mercian Heritage Series. 26. pp.29-39; figs.12a,13.
[16]SSA20432 - HER comment: Baker Nigel J. UAD Analysis.
[17]SSA22966 - Excavation report: Hannaford Hugh R. 2007. Archaeological investigations at St Austin's Friars and Bridge Street, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. SCCAS Rep. 252.
[18]SSA23854 - Deskbased survey report: Hannaford Hugh R. 2011. An archaeological desk-based assessment of land at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College. SCAS Rep. 295.
[19]SSA23944 - Excavation report: Dodd L J. 2011. Shrewsbury Sixth Form College: an archaeological evaluation. Earthworks Archaeol Rep. E1128.
[20]SSA24026 - Watching brief report: Frost Pat. 2012. Creation of new pedestrian access, Victoria Avenue Wall, Shrewsbury Sixth Form College. Castlering Archaeol Rep. 386.
[21]SSA10448 - Watching brief report: Hannaford Hugh R. 1995. Watching Briefs 1995 (notes). SCCAS Rep.
[22]SSA22095 - Watching brief report: Hannaford Hugh R. 2004. Morris's Bakery, Victoria Avenue, Welsh Bridge: site of the Augustinian Friary.
[23]SSA20921 - Excavation report: Hannaford Hugh R. 1997. An archaeological evaluation at Victoria Avenue, Welsh Bridge, Shrewsbury. SCCAS Rep. 113. pp.5-6.
[24]SSA20919 - Excavation report: Hannaford Hugh R. 1997. An archaeological evaluation at St Austin's Friars and Lower Claremont Bank, Shrewsbury. SCCAS Rep. 119. Trench A.
[25]SSA27280 - Site visit report: Hannaford Hugh R. 1998. St Austin's Friars and Lower Claremont Bank, Shrewsbury (notes on a site visit).
Date Last Edited:Jul 1 2022 4:53PM