Record Details

NHER Number:3456
Type of record:Monument
Name:Wormegay Priory


The surviving earthworks of a medieval priory consisting of a moated enclosure which contained the major buildings of the site, the cropmarks of associated enclosures to the north and the faint remains of a fish pond complex to the west. The priory was a house of the Augustinian canons, founded in the late 12th century. What documentary evidence there is suggests that it was a small and relatively poorly endowed house and the number of canons probably never exceeded seven. In 1468 it was united with the neighbouring Augustinian priory of Pentney (NHER 3924) as a cell of that house. It was dissolved in 1537.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 6519 1269
Map Sheet:TF61SE

Full description

Augustinian priory of St Mary, Holy Cross and St John.
Founded 1189 to 1199; became a cell in 1468; dissolved in 1537.
See (S1).

In the late 19th century excavations found a passage with tesselated pavement and stone coffins 'Nearby' a lead 'seal' (bull?) inscribed 'BONIFACIVS VII S Pe S Pa' (Pope 1389 to 1404).

A clear causeway flanked by ditches approaches the centre of the west side, but there is no trace of a crossing of the moat. On east and west sides the arms of latter are wide, flat bottomed and used as wet dykes. North side similar, cut off by fence. South side dry and interrupted. Dykes to south now take water. Interior banked up high (though not really much higher than exterior on south and west). Farm buildings marked on Ordnance Survey 6 inch map have been demolished; brick foundations remain, with fragment of reused stone.
Some sort of wartime(?) building to southeast.
Area used for herd of prize bulls which are not at all dangerous.
E. Rose (NAU), 7 July 1978.

Silver Scottish coin found on surface, ?13th century, reverse as in (S1).
E. Rose (NAU).

14 June 1974; 12 July 1974; 8 July 1976. NAU aerial photography.
Earthworks and cropmarks.
Earthworks at site of Priory of St Mary and St John.
D.A. Edwards (NAU), 22 May 1980.

Indicates that the causeway mentioned above is really part of a complex of buildings or yards. Not however a recognisable priory pattern; very odd.
E. Rose (NAU), 11 June 1980.

There is a complex of dry fishponds to the west, two of which show evidence of infilling.
Earthwork survey in file.
Information from Ordnance Survey Records.
R.J. Rickett (NAU), 12 March 1990

Not visited during Fenland evaluation project but earthworks still extant in pasture. A dossier prepared for Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission; copy in file.
M.D. Leah (NAU), August 1990.

December 1994. Site scheduled.
Including outer earthworks.
Infomration from Scheduling Notification (S2).
E. Rose (NLA), 19 January 1995.

Site under reasonable grass cover. However large area on moat interior suffering from cattle tramping around feed troughs.
H. Paterson (NLA), 1 December 1995.

June 1996. Earthwork Survey.
Earthwork survey at 1:1000.
See report (S4) for further details and plan showing possible layout of fishponds (S13). Mentions medieval brick walling.This site was included in (S14) and the survey is also noted in (S15).
B. Cushion (NLA), June 1996.

Photographs in file of a 'stone sink' found on the site in the 1920s.
However this could easily have come from the cottages on the site and is very similar to sinks/tanks of 19th century date found in Norfolk farms.
E. Rose (NLA), 12 November 1996.

For the 'military structure' now see NHER 34319.

October 2001.
Site covered in shoulder high nettles and thistles, these thick to east. Lumps of sandstone, brick yellow clay tile and flint seen in long grass to northeast. Also large piece of moulded stone near gate to west. No cattle grazing for nine months due to foot and mouth.
H. Paterson (A&E), 18 October 2001.

Founded between 1166 and 1175 by Reginald de Warenne. In 1175 appears to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St John the Evangelist. Sometime before 1209 this dedication was changed to St Mary Holy Cross. Although it became known as the Priory of Wormegay, in Henry II's charter it is described as the church of SS Mary and John at Setchley.
In 1468 it was suppressed as an independent community and re-established as a cell of Pentney Priory (NHER 3924).
Information from (S3).
J. Allen (NLA), 4 July 2003.

June 2004. Visit.
Grazed by large herd of cattle. Site inspected from road. Poaching appears confined to area of feed troughs adjacent to gate. Some thick nettle and thistle patches. Owner may consider Section 17 or Stewardship in 2005 when farming regime may change.
H. Paterson (A&E), 8 July 2004.

Before 4 April 2005. Metal detecting.
Medieval strap fitting at [1].
See description in file.
A. Rogerson (NLA), 12 June 2005.

December 2007. Norfolk NMP
Earthworks and cropmarks relating to Wormegay Priory are visible on aerial photographs (S5-S12). The earthworks and cropmarks visible on the aerial photographs complement a ground survey of the site (S13) and only a brief description will be given here. The main part of the priory lies within a trapezoidal moated enclosure. This enclosure is defined by a 7m wide ditch and measures 158m by 127m internally. The internal area of the enclosure comprises a raised platform with a square sunken area present towards its southern end. To the west of the moat are earthworks of rectangular fishponds and associated ditches. To the north of the earthworks are cropmarks of an incomplete outer rectilinear enclosure containing a possible platform. Other ditch cropmarks, some possibly serving a drainage function, are also present in this area.
J. Albone (NMP), 18 December 2007.

Monument Types

  • BUILDING (Unknown date)
  • CAUSEWAY? (Unknown date)
  • FARM BUILDING (Unknown date)
  • YARD? (Unknown date)
  • DRAINAGE DITCH (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ENCLOSURE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FISHPOND (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOAT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PRIORY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TESSELLATED FLOOR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CELL (Medieval to 16th Century - 1468 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Finds

  • BULL? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COFFIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SEAL? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • STRAP FITTING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Photograph: NLA. Finds Photograph. Stone Sink.
---Photograph: I & RS. Digital finds image.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 61 SE 11.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Unpublished Document: Leah, M. D. (NAU) and Mathews, M. (NAU). 1990. Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission Dossier.
---Unpublished Document: Davison, A.. Appendix 2 - The Historical Documentary Evidence.
---Unpublished Document: Porter, R.D.J.. 1996. Letter. Stone Sink from Wormegay Priory..
---Publication: Messent, C. J. W. 1934. The Monastic Remains of Norfolk and Suffolk. pp 96, 99.
---Monograph: Silvester, R. J. 1988. The Fenland Project Number 3: Marshland and Nar Valley, Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 45. p 148.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Wormegay.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Designation: English Heritage. 1994? -2011?. English Heritage Digital Designation Record. Record. DNF105.
<S1>Monograph: Grueber. Scottish Coins.. pl XLI, p 14. p 14; Pl XLI.
<S2>Designation: English Heritage. 1990-2013. English Heritage Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF105.
<S3>Article in Serial: Vincent, N. 1999. The Foundation of Wormegay Priory. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIII Pt II pp 307-312.
<S4>Unpublished Report: Cushion, B. 1996. Wormegay Priory SMR3456. Earthwork Survey Report.
<S5>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1983. NHER TF 6512J-Q (NLA 132/AST12-8) 15-APR-1983.
<S6>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1974. NHER TF 6512A (NLA 2/AAW38) 14-JUN-1974.
<S7>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1974. NHER TF 6512C-D (NLA 13/ADE20-1) 12-JUL-1974.
<S8>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1976. NHER TF 6512E (NLA 30/AFX18) 08-JUL-1976.
<S9>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1984. NHER TF 6512R-T (NLA 139/AUF21-3) 09-FEB-1984.
<S10>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1989. NHER TF 6512AE-AG (NLA 218/DGR2-4) 23-FEB-1989.
<S11>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1992. NHER TF 6512AH-AP (NLA 315/GMF7-13) 23-JUL-1992.
<S12>Vertical Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1982. CUCAP RC8-EV168-9 15-OCT-1982 (NHER TF 6412C / TF 6512H).
<S13>Illustration: Cushion, B. 1996. Wormegay Priory Fishponds. Possible layout. Earthwork Suvey. 1:2000.
<S14>Monograph: Cushion, B. and Davison, A. 2003. Earthworks of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 104. p 158.
<S15>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1997. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1996. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt IV pp 547-564. pp 562-563.

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3924Part of: Priory of Holy Trinity, SS Mary and Mary Magdalen (Pentney Abbey) (Monument)

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