Record Details

NHER Number:46386
Type of record:Building
Name:Abbey Farm Cottage and barns, Monksgate


These timber-framed buildings were constructed in the late 13th century as outbuildings for the Cluniac Priory (NHER 5748). In the mid 19th century the west end was converted to a farmhouse and remainder was used as farm buildings, now a storehouse. The buildings have a late 13th century timber-framed core with a 19th century flint skin and gault brick dressings as well as re-used medieval fragments and coursed clunch. Originally one storey, the buildings now also have an attic and they retain a thatched roof, with some slate.The north side has two 19th century cart entrances and three 19th century doorways while the south side has an additional blocked cart entrance and various 19th century windows. On the interior, the centre third of the house retains evidence of a 13th century aisled hall structure.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TL 8653 8348
Map Sheet:TL88SE

Full description

March 1971. Listed, Grade I.
Listing Description Excerpt:
"Abbey outbuildings, converted to farmhouse at west end mid 19th century, remainder used as farm buildings, now store. Late 13th century timber-framed structure with 19th century flint skin and gault brick dressings. Re-used medieval fragments and coursed clunch also. Thatched roof with some slate. One storey and attic, formerly one storey."
Information from (S1).
Amended E. McDonald (HES), 8 November 2019.

April 1992. Dendrochronological Survey.
No conclusive dating obtained for the timbers examined.
See report (S9) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 24 February 2014.

1997. Building survey.
English Heritage Survey of Abbey Farm Cottage and Abbey Farm Barn.
See (S17) for details.
P. Watkins (HES), 24 February 2014.

2000. Dendrochronological Survey and Building Survey.
Further dendrochronological analysis. Additional documentary research and fabric analysis also undertaken. The timbers from Abbey Farm Cottage all fall within the date range 1400-1450.
See reports (S10) and (S11) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 24 February 2014.

2002. Dendrochronological Survey.
Reanalysis of tree ring data collected at Abbey Farm Cottage and Abbey Farm Barm in 1992.
A further six samples, one from the western half of the barn and five from the cottage, were dated. These are clearly contemporaneous with the 15th century phases identified for the western half of the barn and cottage.
See report (S12) for further details - this report replaces (S9).
A. Cattermole (NLA), 22 August 2008. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 23 April 2014.

June 2003. Desk Based Assessment.
Proposals to develop Abbey Farm, which constitutes the outer court of St Mary's Priory in Thetford, may affect deposits of archaeological significance (if any survive) within the two extant late medieval buildings and the area of proposed development around the courtyard.
See report (S13) for further details.
A. Cattermole (NLA) 22 November 2004. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 23 February 2014.

March-April 2007. Test Pitting.
Archaeological evaluation within the Abbey Farm complex. As part of this work a series of test pits were excavated within Abbey Farm Cottage and Abbey Farm Barn in order to examine structural elements.
See report (S14) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S15).
See (S16) for details of proposed alterations.
P. Watkins (HES), 24 February 2014.

April 2008.
Proposal to convert part of the site into 26 homes.
See (S2) and (S4)-(S7) for further details
H. White (NLA), 20 April 2009

July 2008.
(S3) states that this site is the only example of such buildings surviving in the precinct of a monastry in Britain.
H. White, (NLA), 23 September 2009.

An application for extension of planning permission has been submitted. This is following the previous planning permission for the derelict Abbey barns to be developed into 26 new houses.
See (S8) for further information.
M. Langham-Lopez (HES), 18 February 2013.

Monument Types

  • AISLED HALL HOUSE (Medieval to 21st Century - 1260 AD? to 2100 AD)
  • OUTBUILDING (Medieval to 21st Century - 1260 AD? to 2100 AD)
  • TIMBER FRAMED BUILDING (Medieval to 21st Century - 1260 AD? to 2100 AD)
  • FARMHOUSE (19th Century to 21st Century - 1850 AD to 2100 AD)
  • STOREHOUSE (Late 20th Century to 21st Century - 1970 AD? to 2100 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2008. A stormy past- and an uncertain future. 8 July.
---Photograph: 1996. Photograph of Abbey Farm Cottage and Barns, Thetford. Colour.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2013. Spotlight on the buildings that open a window on our past. 10 October.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2013. Work to start on at-risk 13th-century buildings. 17 October.
---Article in Serial: Heywood, S & Smith, R. 1992. Abbey Farm Cottage, Thetford. The Quarterly (the Journal of NAHRG). vol. 8.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1990-1998. [Articles on the proposed plans for the Abbey Barns].
<S1>Designation: English Heritage. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1207935.
<S2>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2007. These monastic ruins are unique. 22 November.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Groups oppose homes plan on site of priory. 14 April.
<S5>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Homes plan approved for site of medieval barns. 21 April.
<S6>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Ancient barns reprieved for now. June.
<S7>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009-2010. [Articles on the planning inquiry for the proposal at Abbey Barns conversion].
<S8>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2013. New request for barns site. 7 January.
<S9>Unpublished Contractor Report: Groves, C. and Hillam, J. 1993. Tree-ring Analysis of Oak Timbers from the Abbey Farm Cottage and Barn, Thetford, Norfolk, 1992. Ancient Monuments Laboratory. 34/93.
<S10>Unpublished Contractor Report: Bond, R. and Ellis, R. 2000. Abbey Farm, Thetford. An Historical Assessment. English Heritage Historical Analysis & Research Team. Reports and Papers 32.
<S11>Unpublished Contractor Report: Howard, R., Laxton, R. and Litton, C. 2000. Tree-Ring Analysis of Timbers from the Barn and Cottage, Abbey Farm, Thetford, Norfolk. Ancient Monuments Laboratory. 48/2000.
<S12>Monograph: Groves, C. 2002. Tree-Ring Analysis of Oak Timbers from Abbey Farm Barn and Cottage, Thetford, Norfolk. English Heritage Centre for Archaeology Report. 18/2002.
<S13>Unpublished Contractor Report: Penn, K. 2003. An Archaeological Desk Based Assessment of Abbey Farm, Thetford. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 840.
<S14>Unpublished Contractor Report: Birks, C. 2007. Report on an Archaeological Evaluation by Trial Trenching at Abbey Barns, Thetford. Chris Birks Archaeological Services. CB080R.
<S15>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Hoggett, R. (eds). 2008. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2007. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLV Pt III pp 441-452. p 451.
<S16>Unpublished Document: Scholes, S. 2007. Abbey Barns Thetford Structural Engineering Report on the Proposed Alterations. Cameron Taylor Report No. 06288600NST.
<S17>Unpublished Contractor Report: Coppack, G. 1997. Thetford Priory - Timber Framed Buildings to the West of Abbey House. English Heritage.

Related records

5748Part of: Site of Cluniac Priory (Priory of Our Lady) at Abbey Barns (Monument)
MNO2622Related to: Abbey Farm Cottage Monksgate THETFORD (Revoked)

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