Isleham Priory Church: Research Guide

Isleham Priory was a monastic site from around 1100 until 1254. It was overseen by a monastery in Brittany, and its monks came from there. The monastery was closed, and its monks moved to Linton Priory. The church was subsequently used as a barn, but still largely survives.

The first place we start, is with the official sources.

As an English Heritage site, the natural first place to start is with English Heritage’s website. There is a page briefly outlining the history of the site.

Next up, I like Pastscape, as it tends to have a good summary, and details of research done.

Pastscape has several different headings for more information. “Related Monuments” sometimes has interesting connections, or several buildings on the same site. This time, there isn’t anything there. While searching for Isleham Priory, I did come across the entry for Linton Priory, where the monks from Isleham eventually moved to.

In the “Investigation History” section, an archaeological evaluation is mentioned, from what they can gather, it was done in 1997. The full report is listed as being published in 1998, by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, at the University of Cambridge. The CAU doesn’t host many of their publications on their site, but do link to the Archaeology Data Service as hosting many of their reports (337 at the time of writing). Unfortunately, the report we’re looking for isn’t among them. The report is also not listed in the CAU’s list of publications.

The “Investigation History” description also mentions a “later watching brief”, but provides no details about it.

Moving on to Heritage Gateway, which combines several sources, including Pastscape.

Running into a bit of an issue: I feel my searches should be yielding more results. “Isleham Priory” doesn’t bring much at all, “St Margaret Of Antioch” brings up more, some of which are relevant, but…

National Heritage List for England:
42 results when searching for “St Margaret of Antioch”, only one appears relevant: a Listing.

One is better than less-than-one, other places I’ve looked up for History Basics have often turned up two or three relevant results. At this stage, I’m not worried.

I did find two entries on Historic England, one appears to be the same Listing entry as above, the other is a Scheduling entry.

National Monuments Record Excavation Index:
With Pastscape listing an Evaluation and hinting at a Watching Brief, I rather expected to find something relevant here. As it is, I’ve found nothing.

Cambridgeshire Historic Environmental Record:
This section yields three relevant results:
Overview of the Priory
Earthworks to the North of the Priory
Priory drainage works
The first contains a lot of information, some history, some architectural detail.
The second is more descriptive of the geography of the site.
The third is short, but turns out to be about the watching brief that was alluded to earlier. This turns out to be undertaken by Oxford Archaeology East, and they very helpfully have an archive of their reports, and I found the watching brief there.

Other sources
The above didn’t dredge up much in the way of extra material.
Isleham Priory Church on Wikipedia
The Monasticon Anglicanum has a brief entry on Isleham Priory (spelt Iselham), followed by a brief entry on Linton Priory (spelt Lynton), on page 1045.

Discuss this entry on the forum.

Denny Abbey

Built: ~1159, by Benedictine monks.
Change of ownership: 1169, handed over to the Knights Templar.
Change of ownership: 1308 fall of the Templars. Property given to the Hospitallers, who didn’t use it.
Change of ownership: 1324, claimed by the Crown.
Change of ownership: 1327, given to the Countess of Pembroke, who gave part of the property to Franciscan nuns (the “Poor Clares” order)
Dissolved: 1536, in the first round of the Dissolution Of The Monasteries.
Change of ownership: Taken over by the Crown. Converted to farm use (farm from 1539).
Change of ownership: 1628, transferred to private ownership, still a farm.
Change of ownership: 1928, bought by Pembroke College. Still a farm.
Leased 1947 to the Ministry of Works, later transferred to English Heritage.
Abbey partially restored in the 1960s.
Farmland Museum opened in 1997.

Denny Abbey was built on farmland that Wikipedia claims was in the Domesday Book. “Denny”, or any variant of the name, isn’t documented until 1176. I’m not convinced I’ve found the place in either of the Domesday websites I looked at. At, I did the postcode search, using the postcode I found on the official Denny Abbey & Farmland Museum website. It found three nearby locations, each about 3km away. Waterbeach is narrowly the closest., in their listing for Waterbeach (first in the “W” section), mentions Denny Abbey in their description. How accurate the connection is, is unclear.

Wikipedia says the Domesday record of the place, states that the site was owned by Edith the Fair (AKA Edith Swanneck), in 1066. Opendomesday contains a list of names, and there are a few Ediths on the list, it is not obvious if any of them are the right Edith, and none of them seem to be associated with Waterbeach.

Wikipedia’s source for this information is an English Heritage publication about the site, by Richard Wood.

The Notitia Monastica states that the Benedictines moved into their original site at Elmeney (Wikipedia reckons this to be about a mile North-East of the Denny site) in “about 1160”, and isn’t sure exactly when they moved to Denny, just that their church had been constructed by the time of the Bishop’s death (1169).

The Benedictines moved from the Elmeney site because they were “mightily incommoded by the water” – could be high water table, marshy, or possibly prone to flooding. As far as I can tell, the water issues are of that nature, rather than a problem with the drinking water.

Pastscape, and the official Denny website, state that the Benedictines started occupying the site in 1159, which would with the Notitia’s “about 1160” date, perhaps even giving leeway for them to give Elmeney a chance for a year or two (which may well be generous).

Pastscape’s page for the Benedictine chapel, interestingly enough, gives it a date of “circa 1150”, which is a bit trickier to reconcile with the 1159-1169 date we already have for the chapel.

The Notitia isn’t sure when the Benedictines left the site, just that the next documentary records of the place, from 1255, say that the site was owned by the Templars.

The Denny Abbey & Farmland Museum website says the Benedictines were there for 10 years, which would put them there until 1169. Pastscape says the site became property of the Templars in 1170. More confusingly, the Related Text section says “transferred to the Knights Templars before 1169, when it became a hospital preceptory for sick and aged members of the order.”

I’m not quite sure why the dates for the transfer vary so wildly. The Notitia doesn’t give a date, so effectively it gives us a range of 1169-1255, and now we find it could be before that range. Perhaps the current owners have access to documentation that Tanner didn’t when he compiled the Notitia.

The Templars are pretty well known as warriors, protecting pilgrims going to Jerusalem as well as defending (officially) Christian nations from Muslim invaders, a war they would eventually lose. In addition to this, and partly to support those efforts, they administered a lot of land that they were given, and even ran a kind of banking system all over Europe.

At Denny, they used the site as kind of a retirement home for old, ill, and presumably injured members of their order. Wikipedia calls it a hospital. I’m not entirely sure what the distinction is when considering this time period, but other monastic sites have tended to have a separate building called a “hospital”, and I haven’t seen any buildings designated as such, here. Pastscape’s “Related Text” section describes it as a “hospital preceptory”.

The Templars fell from grace, and the Pope issued a bull (decree) known as Pastoralis Praeeminentiae, in late 1307. This instructed all Christian monarchs to arrest all Knights Templar and seize their properties. Edward II didn’t carry this out immediately, but did in 1308 as part of a political deal.

After the Templars
Confiscated Templar property was to be given to the Knights Hospitaller. Wikipedia states that Denny passed to the Hospitallers, but they didn’t use it. Pastscape’s “Related Text” section says that the site didn’t go to the Hospitallers. The Notitia Monastica is brief concerning the Templars, and doesn’t mention the Hospitallers at all. The Monasticon Anglicanum, for most of its description of Denny, just quotes most of the Notitia’s entry.

Wikipedia states that in 1324, the property was taken back by the Crown. I haven’t seen this mentioned in the other places.

The Franciscans
Whether or not the Crown took Denny back from the Hospitallers in 1324, or had control of the place the whole time from 1308, it was evidently in its possession when Edward III gave Denny to the Countess of Pembroke.

Wikipedia’s entry on Denny Abbey says the transfer happened in 1327. Its page on Marie de St Pol, Countess of Pembroke states it happened in 1336. The Notitia doesn’t give a date on this, but everywhere seems to agree that it was after the death of her husband, which happened in 1324.

The Countess converted the original church into a place for herself to live, and gave the rest of the property to some Franciscan nuns. The Notitia states that she was going to give the property to the Franciscans at Waterbeach, but changed her mind and founded a monastery at Denny in 1342. Pastscape’s main description states the Franciscan nunnery at Denny was established “from about 1339”, and one of the paragraphs in the Related Texts states the Countess “received a license to transfer the Franciscan nuns from Waterbeach to Denny”. Wikipedia’s page on the Countess agrees with the 1342 date, and another of the paragraphs in Pastscape’s Related Texts states: “Re-founded as an Abbey of Franciscan Nuns in 1342 to replace Waterbeach, the union being finally effected in 1351”.

Waterbeach Abbey seems to have been prone to flooding, the Franciscans moving to Denny echoing the Benedictines’ move from Elmeney nearly two hundred years earlier.

Wikipedia and Pastscape seem to be in consensus that Waterbeach was abandoned by the end of 1351.

Dates indicate when a name is documented, which aren’t the same as “start” and “end” dates.
The Monasticon lists the following as Abbesses of Denny:
Isabella Kendale in 1405 or 1406
Agnes Bernard in 1414
Margaret Mille or Milly in 1419 and 1431
Katherine Sybyle in 1434
Joane on Aug 12th 1459
Joane Keteryche on Feb 3 1468
Margaret Assheby in 1480 and 1489
Elizabeth Throckmorton “the last Abbess”.

Wikipedia lists the following Abbesses:
Katherine de Bolewyk, first abbess, in 1342 and 1351
Margaret in 1361
Joan Colcestre in 1379
Isabel Kendale in 1391 and 1404
Agnes Massingham, elected 1412
Agnes Bernard in 1413
Margery Milley in 1419 and 1430-1
Katherine Sybyle in 1434 and 1449
Joan Keteryche in 1459 and 1462, died in 1479
Margaret Assheby in 1480, 1487, and 1493
Elizabeth Throckmorton in 1512, last abbess

The lists are interesting to compare. The variations in spelling aren’t surprising. What is a bit surprising is Wikipedia’s list having some dates a year or two off from the Monasticon’s, in the cases of Kendale, Bernard and Assheby, and the 1462/1468 of Keteryche. Also, it’s interesting that the Monasticon doesn’t conflate the Joane of 1459 with the Joane of 1468, though it would be understandable, whereas Wikipedia’s source does.

Henry VIII’s Dissolution Of The Monasteries was a great theft of monastic property, which he then wanted to sell to fund some wars he had going at the time.

The first Act, dissolving the lesser houses, was passed in 1535/6, and the second, dissolving the larger ones, was passed in 1539.

Wikipedia says that Denny was closed in 1536, but that it took nearly two years for all the nuns to leave. The Denny Abbey & Farmland Museum website agrees with this timing.

The Monasticon Anglicanum quotes a text that says that Denny “was one of the thirty-one Monasteries which were reprieved for two years to satisfy the Discontents of the People.” This could mean that it was supposed to close in 1536, but was actually closed a couple of years later, more or less fitting with what Wikipedia and the website say.

Pastscape’s main description lists Denny as being dissolved in 1539. The Related Text section has one paragraph that says it was “closed down around 1539”, and another paragraph with the very specific date of the 18th of October 1539.

The Notitia quotes two reckonings of Denny’s yearly value at the time of the Dissolution: the first, 172£ 8s 3½d, which would firmly put it in danger of the First Act of Suppression. The second says 218£ 0s 1½d, which would keep it safe from the First Act, but not the Second. (The Notitia says “l” instead of “£”, and “ob” after the “d” instead of “½” before the “d”: these are standard notations).

The property was sold to Edward Elrington in 1539 or 1540. Pastscape states “It is thought that Elrington began to dismantle some of the buildings before exchanging the estate with the king for other land.” The site was quickly converted into farmland, the chapel that had been converted into the Countess’s house was now converted into a farmhouse, and the Refectory into a barn.

Other buildings were demolished because they weren’t useful for the farm, but foundations have been discovered.

The Crown held on to Denny until 1628, when it was given to the City Of London as payment for Charles I’s debts (I suspect that this doesn’t describe the entire transaction). Pastscape mentions the City Of London transaction, Wikipedia mentions only that “the abbey passed into private ownership”. The City presumably immediately sold the property.

Denny remained a farm, passing through several owners. Pembroke College bought the site in 1928 (Wikipedia) or 1929 (Pastscape), and leased it to the Ministry of Works in 1947.

Wikipedia states that it ceased to be a farm when the Ministry of Works took over. The English Heritage page suggests that it continued as a farm until the 1960s. Pastscape says that part of the estate “is” still a working farm, that information was dated 1992. It is not clear from the Farmland Museum page if that is still true.

English Heritage became guardians of Denny Abbey in 1984. The Farmland Museum opened on site in 1997. The museum manages the site for English Heritage.

Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society Vol 76 contains an article entitled “Denny Abbey: The Nuns’ Refectory”.
Details about the 1954, and the 1967-1975 excavations are in volume 137 of The Archaeological Journal, produced by the Royal Archaeological Institute. Pastscape‘s references for the latter dig also mention vol 124. Vol 124 and vol 137, and their individual articles, are behind a rather steep paywall at Taylor & Francis Online. All issues of the journal can be viewed for free if you’re a member of the Royal Archaeological Institute, vols 1-120 are available for free for everyone at the Archaeology Data Service.
The full report for the 2011 evaluation is available at the Archaeology Data Service.
Monasticon Anglicanum: pages 1549-1553 concern Denny, then page 1554/1555 talks about Waterbeach.
Notitia Monastica: Denny is discussed p44/45, Waterbeach on p50
Research reports about finds from Denny Abbey

Denny Abbey
Denny Abbey at English Heritage
History of the Abbey at the Denny Abbey & Farmland Museum website
Denny Abbey on Wikipedia
Domesday Book
Waterbeach on Waterbeach is the first “W” entry on the page
Related Wikipedia topics
Edith the Fair on Wikipedia: Wikipedia says she owned the land at the time of the Domesday census
Alan, First Earl of Richmond on Wikipedia: Wikipedia says he subsequently owned the site
Ely Cathedral on Wikipedia: the Benedictine monks came from Ely Abbey
The Benedictine Order on Wikipedia
Knights Templar on Wikipedia: the second monastic order on site
Pastoralis Praeeminentiae on Wikipedia: Papal bull calling for the arrest of the Templars
King Edward II on Wikipedia: had the Templars arrested
Knights Hospitaller on Wikipedia: may or may not have had anything to do with the site
King Edward III on Wikipedia: gave Denny to the Countess of Pembroke
Marie, Countess of Pembroke on Wikipedia: founded the Franciscan community on the site
Franciscans Order on Wikipedia: An umbrella term for several orders of monastics
Poor Clares on Wikipedia: the specific Franciscan order that inhabited Denny
Waterbeach Abbey on Wikipedia
Dissolution of the Monasteries on Wikipedia
King Charles I on Wikipedia
John George Witt on Wikipedia: was born at Denny Abbey

Denny Abbey and Farmland Museum
Denny Abbey chapel
The Refectory
Denny Causeway, leads to Abbey
Histon Manor moat, property of Abbey until dissolution
Stone barn on site
Walnut Tree Cottage
Ely Cathedral, Denny Abbey was a dependency of Ely Abbey

National Heritage List For England
Listing for Denny Abbey
Listing for barn north of Abbey
Listing for Abbey refectory
Scheduling for Abbey (quite descriptive)
National Monuments Record Excavation Index
Layer of indeterminate date
Refectory floor
Watching brief for service trenches
Trial holes to locate abbey buildings
1975 excavation: no description, date taken from the ADS link, rather than Heritage Gateway. Two issues of The Archaeological Journal cited, not ones that are free online.
1985 excavation of refectory and kiln: Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society Volume 76 cited, available online.
Excavation of round barrow adjacent to abbey
Watching brief for post holes
Parks and Gardens UK
The abbey’s garden
Cambridgeshire Historic Environment Record
Denny Abbey
Abbey refectory
Possible midden
Walls and rubble, medieval and 19th Century
Medieval and Post-Medieval pottery finds
Denny Abbey Park
Possible watercourses
Roman pottery
Geological observation

Discuss this article on the forum.

Beeston Castle – work-in-progress

Neolithic activity found on site
Bronze Age activity found on site
Iron Age activity found on site
Roman activity found on site
1086 site owned by Robert Fitz Hugh, Baron of Malpas, listed in Domesday book
Around 1220: Castle was started by Ranulph de Blundeville
1232: Ranulph dies, castle passes to his nephew, John the Scot
1237: John dies without heir, King Henry III takes castle
1254: Given to Prince Edward (later King Edward I).
1264: Garrisoned by Simon de Montfort during the Second Barons’ War (war 1264-1267, garrison reported 1264-1265)
1272-1307: Improvements made by Edward I during his reign
16th Century: castle recorded as “shattered and ruinous”
1602: Castle sold to Sir Hugh Beeston
Feb 1643: English Civil War, castle seized by Parliamentary forces
Dec 1643: castle captured by Royalist forces led by Captain Thomas Sandford
Nov 1644-Nov 1645: castle sieged. Royalists surrendered due to lack of food
1646: castle partially demolished on Cromwell’s order
18th century: site used as quarry, gatehouse demolished to make room for stone removal
1840: castle purchased by John Tollemache
19th century: outer gatehouse added, Site used for the Bunbury fair
1959: state took ownership
1984: castle passed to English Heritage

Beeston at
Beeston at
Beeston Castle at English Heritage: includes a detailed history section
Beeston Castle on Wikipedia
Beeston Castle on Pastscape
related: Beeston Castle Deer Park
Other search result: Brone Age axe found near castle
Ranulph de Blundeville on Wikipedia
John the Scot on Wikipedia
Henry III on Wikipedia
Edward I on Wikipedia
Simon de Montfort on Wikipedia
Hugh Beeston on Wikipedia

National Heritage List for England
Listing for the inner castle
Listing for the walls of the outer bailey
Listing for the Lodge
Scheduling for the castle
National Monuments Record Excavation Index
Excavation record – on Heritage Gateway at the Archaeology Data Service
Excavation record – on Heritage Gateway at the Archaeology Data Service
Geophysical survey record – on Heritage Gateway at the Archaeology Data Service
Cheshire Historic Environment Record
Heritage Gateway’s entries are quite detailed. They link back to the Revealing Cheshire’s Past website, from where the information is taken. Revealing Cheshire’s Past is navigable enough as a guest, but you have more search options if you’re a registered user.
Iron Age activity
Bronze Age activity
Neolithic activity
The castle
Inner bailey
Outer bailey
Deer park
Lower green
Bronze Age axe found there (think this is the same as the Pastscape one, above)
Barbed and tanged arrowhead found there

Detailed reports about the archaeological work undertaken at the castle
Historic England’s research reports about the castle
Medieval Archaeology vol 23 (1979) has a note about the excavations at the castle on page 260
Pastscape also mentions vol 22 of Medieval Archaeology, but I spotted no references to Beeston, and Pastscape didn’t list a page number
Vols 4  and 5 of the Cheshire Archaeology Bulletin have reports about Beeston Castle: vol 4 page 21, vol 5 p14-18

Discuss this article on the forum.

Longthorpe Tower – work-in-progress

Longthorpe Tower, also known as Longthorpe Tower House
House built: around 1263
By: William de Thorpe
Tower added: around 1300
Wall paintings added: around 1330
Change of ownership: 1391, the last Thorpe left his property to John Whittlebury
Change of ownership: 1502, Robert Whittlebury sold it to William Fitzwilliam
Wall paintings covered: assumed to be mid-late 16th Century, during Reformation
World War II: used by Home Guard
Wall paintings discovered: 1945, by Hugh Horrell, the tenant
Preservation: by E Clive Rouse between 1946 and 1948
Change of ownership: 1947, site gifted to the nation by Earl Fitzwilliam.

Longthorpe Tower on English Heritage: contains a detailed description and history.
Longthorpe Tower on Vivacity: Vivacity manages the site, has brief desciptions, and also downloadable mp3s of their audio tour.
Longthorpe Tower on Pastscape. No related monuments listed.
Longthorpe Tower on Wikipedia

National Heritage List for England:
List entry for Longthorpe Tower House
Scheduling for Longthorpe Tower
List entry for outbuildings to the rear of Longthorpe Tower House
List entry for dovecote by Longthorpe Tower House
Parks and Gardens UK:
on Heritage Gateway on Parks and Gardens UK

The Gentleman’s Magazine of January-June 1862 (available on, contains an article called “Medieval Houses Near Peterborough”, the first couple of pages describe Longthorpe Tower. The article starts on page 677.
An article entitled “The Wall-Paintings at Longthorpe Tower near Peterborough, Northants” appeared in The Society of Antiquaries of London’s publication Archaeologia, in 1955. It is available at Cambridge Journals Online, but is a bit expensive.

Discuss this article on the forum.

Duxford Chapel – work-in-progress

Known as the “Chapel of the Hospital of St John the Baptist”. The hospital, though documented, is not well documented, and exactly how close a relationship the hospital and chapel had, isn’t clear.

English Heritage lists the hospital as being documented in 1236. The chapel, as we know it, mostly dates from around 1337. This structure replaced an earlier one, and by this time the hospital was no longer in use.

The hospital was associated with Augustinian monastics. No association is known of between this and a nearby Templar (and later Hospitaller) community, though it seems that sometimes this site is misattributed to them. This confusion is understandable, as both hospital and Hospitallers take the same St John as part of their name.

Despite the monastic association, it was not a full-fledged monastery, so fell outside of the scope of Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. After both rounds of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Henry VIII set his sights on a dissolution of the Chantries, but he died before he could enact much of it. His son Edward VI enacted it, however, and Duxford Chapel fell afoul of this around 1548, and closed.

English Heritage’s history of the site mentions that the chapel is “said to have been unused for seven years”. After that, a warden of the church is listed as being granted a pension in 1553, and in 1554 the chapel’s contents were assessed as being a single bell.

Sometime after this (probably not very long, but no exact date has been listed), the establishment next door, the Red Lion Inn, started to use the chapel as a barn. When it stopped being used for this purpose does not seem to be documented, either.

The Ministry of Works purchased the chapel around 1947, and had restored it by 1954. English Heritage now looks after it.

The English Heritage page notes “There is so far no physical evidence of surrounding buildings or features that might confirm the chapel’s use as a hospital”, which is interesting.

Scour for more documentary evidence for above: try to locate the 13th-16th Century references, see what Heritage Gateway has, and so on. Pastscape did list a publication, but not reference its volume number or anything, I did find that (link below).

Duxford Chapel on English Heritage
EH’s History page for Duxford Chapel
Duxford Chapel on Pastscape
Duxford Chapel on Wikipedia

Volume 72 of the Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society (1984) has an article “Churches Out of Use in Cambridgeshire: 3. Excavations at St John’s Church, Duxford” by Faye and Robert Powell. This is available for download at the Archaeology Data Service.

Discuss this article on the forum.

Temple Church

Where: Bristol
First church built: around 1145
by: Knights Templar
Change of ownership: 1313, land confiscated from Templars and given to the Knights Hospitaller
Rebuilt: completed by 1460
Destroyed: night of 24th November 1940 when the Germans blitzed Bristol.
Remains: Shell of the main building, tower doesn’t look too bad from the pictures

The church is commonly known as Temple Church, after the Knights Templar who owned the site from the mid-12th Century to the early 14th Century. The more proper name for the church is Holy Cross, to which it is dedicated.

The Templars
The Knights Templar are a somewhat infamous order. A military sect of the Roman Catholic Church, they were possibly the best, militarily-speaking, of such groups. They became official within the Church around 1129. As well as being a military force, they were a major economic power through western Europe. As part of joining the Order, a new member would have to give their money and possessions to the Order, and take traditional monastic vows of poverty, chastity, piety and obedience. The organisation also formed a rudimentary banking system.

The Templars were one of the Crusader groups. Rivalries started up between different groups, the Templars having feuds against the Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights. As the Crusaders were dividing, the Muslim forces were uniting, and the Crusaders lost their hold on the Holy Land. The Templar’s last outpost was a garrison on Arwad Island, which they lost around 1303.

The Templars fell afoul of King Philip IV of France, possibly partly because he owed them money, and the Order was subjugated to accusations, tortures, inquisitions and the like. The King pressured the Pope to disband the Templars, which he did. Numerous papal bulls (decrees) from around this time relate to the Templars, including one which passes the Templar assets to the Knights Hospitaller.

Temple Church
Templar churches are usually circular, based on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock, both in Jerusalem. The original Temple Church in Bristol followed this pattern, and the foundation has been excavated.

The Knights Hospitaller added structures, before deciding to tear down the Templar round church and build the rectangular one instead.

English Heritage states that the tower was started in the 1390s, the first three stages were built, that work was suspended because the tower was leaning, and that work was resumed in 1460. Pastscape doesn’t go into detail about the different stages of the tower, but does state that the tower was started in 1441.

Wikipedia (and the archived Church Crawler site, which it quotes) mention a legend attributing the lean of the tower to its being built on top of wool sacks, and then suggest that the soft clay ground as a more likely factor. Sometimes such legends turn out to be entirely fictional, and sometimes they turn out to be true after experts have expended a bunch of effort to dismiss them. The notion of wool-sacks may have come about because of the association of the church with weavers: the north chapel (St Katherine’s) was so associated with weavers, and was commonly known as the Weaver’s Chapel. Also, the 14th/15th Century builders probably noticed the state of the ground. Perhaps wool sacks were used to soak up some damp, prior to building. It’s easy to speculate where the legend may have come from. George Pryce, in his “Popular History of Bristol” (more on which later), mentions this legend and speculates on it.

The Hospitallers in England were victims of Henry VIII’s persecution of monastics and seizure of their properties, but this church appears to have survived because it was a parish church. It continued in that function until the Second World War.

German bombers blitzed Bristol on the night of 24th November 1940. The church was hit, and was gutted by the fire. I haven’t found anywhere stating how badly the tower was affected. It’s obviously still standing, where even some of the church interior that was still standing after the bombing, had to be taken down because it was unsafe. The archived Church Crawler site suggests that sappers (Army engineers), who went to check bomb sites for stability, nearly demolished the tower, because they thought the bombing had caused the tower to lean dangerously. A local managed to point out to them that it had been like that for nearly 500 years, so it would probably be ok.

Matthews’ Directory
Temple Church is described in Matthews’s Bristol Directory 1793-4, with a brief mention of the Templars, and continuing with brief descriptions of the decorations, layout, and, of course, the leaning tower.

The full name of the Directory is “Matthews’s new Bristol directory, for the year, 1793-4. : containing an alphabetical list of the corporation, clergy, merchants, bankers, professors of the law and physic … of the city of Bristol with its environs. To which are added … particulars of the coming in and going out of the posts … Also a list of the hackney coaches, with their owners.” From what I’ve read, it seems that this was published every couple of years from 1793-1805 (with an extra one in 1798), then annually from 1805 to 1855. As the 1793 one was quoted, I tried hunting for it online. I didn’t find it digitized on or Google Books. It looked like there was an electronic copy on the National Library Of Australia  – but one needs an Australian library card to access it, and I don’t have one. The Directory article is quoted on Church Crawler.

A Popular History Of Bristol
A Popular History Of Bristol by George Pryce, published 1861, has a few pages dedicated to the Temple Church, starting at the bottom of p298, ending p307. Mr Pryce is quite opinionated. For example, recognising that Templar architecture dictates that the church should be round, he dismisses the Templar origin of the church because the structure he could see didn’t match that. Although he dwells on architectural style for dating the building, he generally dismisses the architecture as uninteresting. Still, as much as Mr Pryce seems to have taken a dislike to the place, his description of the place, particularly in his descriptions of the place as it was then, and of the things he was told by the locals, was pretty interesting.

The Calendar of Patent Rolls
The church was mentioned at least twice in the Calendar of Patent Rolls. I suspect at least a third time, due to a context in an archaeological report (more on this a bit further down), but I could verify two references with the University of Iowa‘s archives:
Edward II, vol. 1 (1307-1313), p134, July 8
Edward III, vol. 2 (1330-1334), p68, January 28

Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society
Volumes 1-132 of this publication are available for free in pdfs on their site.
Vol 31 (1908) mentions a finding in the section “Bristol Archaeological Notes For 1908, 1909”. Page 303 (the 20th page in the pdf) has a paragraph recounting some niches found during repairs to the tower.
Vol 32 (1909) has an article “The Almshouses of Bristol”, which has some information about Temple Church on p86, but Temple Street gets mentioned quite a lot, as does Temple Hospital. I suspect more connection between the church and the hospital than merely the name and geography.
Vol 32 also has an article “Church Furniture and Decoration of the Renaissance Period in Bristol”, which devotes quite a bit of space to the Temple Church, and has a picture of some ironwork from the church.
Vol 34 (1911)’s “Bristol Archaeological Notes For 1910”, pp80-83, talks about some alterations to the church made during the period of repairs mentioned in vol 31, and some 17th century finds from the levelling of the churchyard.

Pastscape mentions an excavation in 1960, a watching brief in 1995, and an architectural survey in 1999 and 2000.
Volume 126 of the Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society (2008), contains a publication of the results of the 1960 excavation. This report also contains results of excavations from 1971.

The Journal for the Society of Medieval Archaeology, volume 16, p187 (“Medieval Britain in 1971”), has a paragraph about the 1971 excavation. Available at the Archaeology Data Service.

I have found references to publications of the Bristol & Avon Archaeological Society. I have not found links to their publications.

The Journal of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology volume 6 (1972), p218, was listed as a bibliographic reference, presumably covering the 1971 dig, but I did not find the publication viewable online.

Temple Church on English Heritage
Temple Church on Pastscape (the only Related Monument is the City of Bristol itself)
Temple Church on Wikipedia
Temple Church on the archived Church Crawler site
Temple Church on About Bristol

The Knights Templar on the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent, a Catholic site
The Knights Templar on Wikipedia
A list of Papal Bulls on Wikipedia – while very far from exhaustive, quite a few bulls related to the Templars are listed.

National Heritage List for England
Listing: Church remains
Listing: Archway and gates
Scheduling: Church
Parks and Gardens UK
Church and gardens, and on the Parks and Gardens site
National Monuments Record Excavation Index
The 1960 excavation
The 1971 excavation
The 1995 watching brief
The 2000 assessment
Finds from 1911 when the churchyard was levelled, references only Vol 34 of the Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, linked above.
The 1911 examination of the interior of the church, also taken from vol 34 of the Transactions of the BGAS.
Local Records
Possibly due to the county shuffling that Bristol has been through, there are no references to the site in any of the administrative districts listed.

Discuss this article on the forum.

Donnington Castle

Built: 1386
By: Sir Richard Abberbury
Change of ownership: 1398, bought by Thomas Chaucer (son of the famous Geoffrey) for daughter Alice and son-in-law William
Change of ownership: taken by the Crown (no date found)
Change of ownership: given to Charles Brandon in 1514
Change of ownership: reclaimed by Crown in 1535, in a state of decay
Change of ownership: granted to Charles Howard by Queen Elizabeth I, in 1600
Change of ownership: owned by John Packer, starting sometime before 1643 (no date found)
Change of ownership: Garrisoned by Royalists after the first Battle of Newbury, 1643. John Boys became Governor of the castle.
Extra fortifications added.
Attacked end of July 1644, repelled
Sieged for 12 days in September 1644 by Colonel Jeremy Horton, castle remained untaken
Attacked 4th Oct by Edward Montagu and the parliamentary army. Storming failed, bombardment continued until the King and the Royal army headed that way.
After failing to relieve Basing House, the King tried to relieve Donnington Castle. The Parliamentary army showed up a couple of days later, leading to the Second Battle of Newbury. on Oct 27th. William Waller and his army surrounded the castle, while the Royalist army fought Montagu’s army at the main battle. Both sides thought they’d lost, Donnington remained a Royalist stronghold.
After the King left, Robert Devereux laid siege to the castle. He left before the King came back in November.
Sieged again from early 1646, truce from the end of March.
Change of ownership: Boys surrenders the castle, on 1st April 1646.
1646: The castle is in tatters from all the assaults. Parliament votes to demolish the castle. The first part of the English Civil War ends.
Today, the Gatehouse is all that survives.

The above took a bit of sorting out, due to different articles being contradictory, or not easy to follow. So, I’ll start with some notes on the above:

Attacked end of July 1644, repelled
Wikipedia lists this attack as by a division of the New Model Army, which wasn’t created until January 1645, first taking to the field sometime around the beginning of April.

Under siege for 12 days in September 1644 by Colonel Jeremy Horton, castle remained untaken
Wikipedia says it started Sept 29th, which it also lists as “about a month” after the July 31st attack. The next thing listed is the parliamentarian army returning on 4th Oct, so September 29th as a start date seems pretty suspect.
At the time of writing, Wikipedia linked to an article for Jeremy Horton, but the page linked to was for a Days Of Our Lives character.

The Second Battle of Newbury
Wikipedia’s page on the battle is hard to follow, their John Boys page told me most about the castle’s role, but didn’t clear the rest of it up. The Royal Berkshire History description was clearer, but still not easy to condense for the Cheat Sheet description. The Pastscape page for the battle provides the best summary I found.

Donnington Castle at English Heritage
Donnington Castle at Pastscape
Donnington Castle at Royal Berkshire History
Donnington Castle on Wikipedia

Heritage Gateway links
National Heritage List for England
Donnington Castle (listing)
Donnington Castle (Scheduling)
National Monuments Record Excavation Index
one result, linking to an item at the Archaeology Data Service. The ADS page states an excavation happened in 1932. Pastscape also mentions this, stating the results were published in the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works Guide 1964. I didn’t find it online.
West Berkshire Historic Environment Record
Donnington Castle
1643 Defences – “numerous finds” are noted, didn’t notice their being documented
Donnington Village – Listed in the Domesday Book, it’s noted that John Boys had the village demolished so the enemy couldn’t make use of it
Site of the Second Battle of Newbury

Other material
The University of Iowa has translations of the patent rolls for various monarchs. The licence for Richard Abberbury to build the castle is in Richard II, Vol 3, p156.
The first and second battles of Newbury and the siege of Donnington Castle during the Civil War, 1643-6, by Walter Money. Published 1884.
The Antiquities of England and Wales vol 1 by Francis Grose, has an article about Donnington Castle (spelt “Dunnington”). Hard to find the page without a search: it’s page 5, but that’s after a very long preface.

Discuss this article on the forum.

Wrest Park – Work In Progress

Associated with: The Grey/de Grey family
Came into their possession: early 14th Century
Formal gardens started: 1658, with work ongoing until 1740, with further design in 1758
Stately home built: 1834-’39
Leaves possession of the de Grey family: around 1916
Becomes property of English Heritage: 2006

English Heritage lists the property as in the de Grey family as far back as the early 14th Century, on Wikipedia the earliest reference to Wrest I found in the family line (much of it Grey rather than de Grey, the de Grey title being created in 1816), was to Edmund Grey (1460-1490).

The formal gardens were started by Amabel Grey, wife of Henry, their son Anthony and his wife Mary.

Anthony and Mary’s son Henry adds a formal woodland garden known as the Great Garden.

In 1758, Capability Brown (actual first name Lancelot), a famous landscape architect, was brought in to enhance parts of the gardens.

In 1834, work started on demolishing the old house and building the new. The new house was mostly designed by Thomas de Grey, an amateur architect, who in the same year became president of the Institute of British Architects (which, three years later, became the Royal Institute of British Architects in London). the work was supervised by James Clepham, who designed parts like the plumbing and drainage.

Thomas’s daughter Anne becomes the last de Grey to live on the estate. Her son Francis inherits the place, but doesn’t visit much. Francis’ son Auberon leases the property to American Ambassador Whitelaw Reid, who died while serving in that position.

During the First World War, the house is used to look after wounded soldiers. A fire in 1916 brings this to an end. Auberon was a captain in the Royal Flying Corps, was injured by a German plane while flying over German lines, and died of his injuries. His sister sold the park to John George Murray, who made his fortune in the brewing and mining businesses.

The Sun Insurance Company (I believe now conglomerated into the RSA [Royal Sun Alliance] Insurance Group) purchased Wrest Park during the Second World War, and used it for their headquarters. After the war, the property was sold to the National Institute of Agricultural Engineering, later renamed the Silsoe Research Institute, which made a name for itself for its research into agriculture and food processing.

In 2006, the estate was sold to English Heritage, who have extensive long-term plans to restore and improve the site.

Some links
Wrest Park on English Heritage
Wrest Park on Pastscape
article about the park, and current work on its gardens
Wrest Park on Wikipedia

Pastscape links (need to be double-checked with searching for “Wrest Park”, and looking at the main Pastscape entry for Related Monuments – sometimes you find things on one that you don’t find on the other) – original house at Wrest Park – Wrest Park House – East Half House – West Half House – Whitehall – Le Petit Trianon, playhouse in park – stableblock belonging to park – coachman’s cottage, stables, coach house etc – former brewhouse etc – Atlas Pond, in the park – Banqueting House, in the park – Bath House, in the park – Bowling Green House – Chinese Bridge – Chinese Bridge – Chinese Summerhouse – Mithraic Altar – The Orangery – Icehouse – North Lodge, entrance lodge to the park – South Lodge, entrance lodge to the park – entrance lodge – entrance lodge – walled garden in the park – formal garden – monument in park to Thomas Hutton – monument in park to Lady Glenorchy – monument in park to the Earl of Harrold – Capability Brown column – statues in park – fountain, pond and statue group – statue group – garden ornament – ornamental baths – “Ha ha” – statue – statue – statue – statue – statue – statue – Statue of King William III – Statue of Lady Jemima – statue of Mercury – statue of Neptune – statue of Plenty – statue of Hercules – The Hawking Party equestrian statue group – garden urn – plinth and urn – roman altars – earthwork at park – earthworks in park – earthwork in north of park – earthwork in park – earthwork in park – earthwork in park – earthworks in park – earthwork in park – earthwork in park – earthwork in park – earthwork in park – earthwork in park – earthwork in park – earthwork in park – earthwork in park – earthworks in park – parchmarks in park – parchmark in park – parchmark in park – parchmark in park – parchmark in park – parchmark in park – parchmarks in park – parchmark in park – parchmark in park – parchmarks in park – parchmarks in park – parchmarks in park – parchmark in park – parchmark in park – cropmark in park – cropmark in park – cropmark in park – cropmark in park – cropmarks in park – cropmark in park – cropmark in park – cropmark in park – cropmarks in park – cropmarks in park – cropmark in park – cropmarks in park – quarry area in park – “The American Garden” at Wrest Park – huts that used to be in park – more associated huts – more associated huts – mound at park – earthwork, possible former western boundary of park – earthwork adjacent to park – another Old Park earthwork – earthworks next to park

If Pastscape turned up a load of stuff, so did Heritage Gateway, but you can’t save search results.
Next on list for this page is to copy all the individual links from there, I think a lot of them will overlap with Pastscape results. Seems that there has been a bunch of work to make note of.

See also
de Grey Mausoleum

Discuss this article on the forum.

Houghton House

Built: around 1615
For: Mary Sidney Herbert, Dowager Countess of Pembroke
Subsequent owners: Bruce family, Russell family
House abandoned: 1794

Mary Sidney Herbert was a writer, a translator, a patron of the arts, and a chemist (Wikipedia: “She had a chemistry laboratory at Wilton House, where she developed medicines and invisible ink”).

She died of smallpox in 1621.

After that, the house went through three owners. All of Houghton’s owners had other properties.

The Bruce family owned the house from 1624, and it became their main residence. Thomas Bruce, the 2nd Earl of Ailesbury, supported the deposed James II, and went into exile around 1696. He drew revenue from the estate in the following years, so presumably rented it out. He sold it in 1738, 3 years before his death.

The new owner was John Russell. In the 1760s, the chamber above the Great Hall, which was used for private functions beforehand, was converted into a library.

John’s sons died before he did, so after he died in 1771, the estate passed to his grandson Francis.

In 1794, Francis took the furnishings and the roof, and left the house to the elements. While the house was being taken apart, The Swan Inn in Bedford acquired the great staircase from the house, where it still remains.

The house and its park were sold to the owner of Ampthill Park, a nearby estate, in 1804.

Houghton House is believed to be the inspiration for  the House of the Palace Beautiful, in the late 17th Century book “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan.

A paragraph about the house appears in Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal #8, page 138. This describes a preliminary survey, challenging the conventional wisdom about the architect who designed the house. The Council for British Archaeology has scans of the Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal. p138 of the Journal is on page 154 of the pdf.

An archaeological Watching Brief was done when posts were put in for information boards by English Heritage. This is listed on Pastscape, Historic Environment Record for Bedfordshire, and so on. This was undertaken by Northamptonshire Archaeology. I found the pdf at the Archaeology Data Service.

Houghton House at English Heritage
Houghton House on Pastscape
Houghton House on Wikipedia
via Heritage Gateway:
National Monuments Record entry on Houghton House
Historical Environment Record for Bedfordshire: Houghton House

Mary Sidney Herbert on Wikipedia
Thomas Bruce on Wikipedia
John Russell on Wikipedia
Francis Russell on Wikipedia

Related Results
Houghton Park on Pastscape
Ampthill Park House on Pastscape
HER (Beds): Ice house at Houghton House, no longer extant
HER (Beds): Summerhouse intended for Houghton House (designed John’s son, Francis’ father, who died before John)
HER (Beds): Screen and gates, at least parts of which were taken from Houghton House
HER (Beds): Gardener’s house at Houghton House

Mary Sidney at Project Gutenberg
Mary Herbert at, with transcriptions of some of her works
Mary Sidney at
Searched for the Memoirs of Thomas Bruce, found Volume II viewable online, but not Volume I.

Discuss this article on the forum.

de Grey Mausoleum

Built: 1614
Extended: 1705
21 monuments, to 25 members of the de Grey family
Attached to the 15th Century Church of St John The Baptist


The de Grey family was influential from the 17th-19th centuries. This mausoleum was constructed to house them after their deaths. There are memorials to earlier family members who are not housed there.

The year most commonly listed as when it was built, is 1614, though some sources list the first phase of building as starting in 1605.

The de Greys lived in the nearby Wrest Park, which is also an English Heritage property.

Web Records:
de Grey Mausoleum at English Heritage
de Grey Mausoleum on Pastscape
de Grey Mausoleum on Wikipedia
via Heritage Gateway:
National Heritage List for England: Listing
National Heritage List for England: Scheduling
The Historic Environment Record for Bedfordshire’s information about the Mausoleum

Related Results:
Church of St John The Baptist on Pastscape
The Historic Environment Record for Bedfordshire’s information about the church
The Historic Environment Record for Bedfordshire’s information about railings in the churchyard

As the place is pretty intact, there’s not exactly been a need for extensive archaeological excavations. Pastscape doesn’t have anything in the Investigation History section, though it does have some things listed for the church. Interestingly, one of the things it lists for the church, is an analysis of timbers from the Mausoleum, for dating purposes.
The Scheduling entry on the National Heritage List (linked above) has a bunch of sources linked, and the “Books and journals” section mainly has some relatively recent books listed (the Historical Survey of Wrest Park looks interesting). The last item in that section says something about a gentleman’s magazine in monuments of the Grey family. Looking it up, “The Gentleman’s Magazine” was a long-running journal with many submitted articles, such that the twice-yearly “magazine” had over 600 pages. Hunting on, I found two copies of Jul-Dec scanned there, which ultimately proved to be the wrong issue. I found one of Jan-Jun, which was the right issue. And most of the article is missing. Pages 393 and 394 (by the digital page count, page 405) are just about blank. The article does seem to continue on to page 395, which is only mostly missing. When the first column returns in its entirety, you can see mentions of the village, Wrest Park, and the Church of St John the Baptist. Fortunately, the entirety of the article is present over at Google Books.
The HER (Beds) information about the Mausoleum lists a couple of events:
*The tree-ring analysis that Pastscape mentioned
*”An archaeological watching brief during the excavation of a French drain around the perimeter of the church of St John the Baptist, Flitton”. This has not been published, but is available at the Archaeology Data Service (which hosts unpublished archaeological documentation).
The HER’s “Other sources” section includes:
*An unpublished document by Northamptonshire Archaeology. Best I can tell, this is the excavation of the French drain that I just linked to.
*An unpublished document from Ordnance Survey. There’s a reference, but I didn’t find anything relevant from searching for that generally, or searching for “Flitton” at the ADS.
*An article in “Proceedings of the Summer Meeting of the Royal Archaeological Institute at Bedford in 1982”. A search for this revealed that it may have been printed in The Archaeological Journal Vol. 139. Both individual article and full publication are available at Taylor & Francis Online, but the price is somewhat prohibitive.

Discuss this article on the forum.