Record Details

NHER Number:7110
Type of record:Monument
Name:Site of St Stephen's Priory


This is the site of an Augustinian priory that was founded as a hospital in about 1135 before becoming a priory in about 1200. The priory was dissolved in the 16th century. The medieval precinct walls are still standing in places, a long partitioned building in the centre of the site has evidence of medieval brickwork and flint masonry. To the east are earthworks of probable medieval fishponds and a watercourse, and other earthwork depressions and platforms in the complex are probably of medieval date. The site is marked as a bridewell on Faden's map of 1797, and Bryant's map of 1826 depicts a windmill on the site. Abbey Farm is reputed to have had medieval building materials incorporated into the buildings, but the farm has now been demolished.


  • Plan of the earthworks of St Stephen's Priory, Hempton  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service


Grid Reference:TF 9165 2890
Map Sheet:TF92NW

Full description

Augustinian. Founded as hospital pre 1135; became priory about 1200; dissolved 1537.
Abbey Farm, in which the schedule says are remains of domestic buildings, has been completely destroyed 'about 7 years ago' according to a local man.
The site of the church and monastic buildings is marked by prominent earthworks in two pasture fields.
One section of foundations is exposed. Earthworks are in good condition.
E. Rose (NAU) 28 October 1976.

Marked as 'Hempton Bridewell' on (S1).
(S2) marks a windmill here.
E. Rose (NAU)

However Unit aerial photographs taken July 1977 and April 1980 show that the exposed foundations are one compartment at the end of a long very narrow, subdivided building at the head of two watercourses.
The other earthwork seems only drainage or plot divisions and no plan of the church can be made out.
Site of Abbey Farm also visible some distance from narrow building.
E. Rose (NAU) 9 June 1981.

Windmill closed down 1863.
Information from [1].
E. Rose (NAU)

Under healthy grass cover, with minimal poaching by horses around entrance to northwest. Some scrub has been removed, leaving the site relatively free, except for some elder to northeast around and south of site of farm buildings.
Fragments of possible perimeter walling noted in bank to west.
H. Paterson (A&E) December 1992.

November 1994. Earthwork Survey.
Survey at 1:1000.
Finds included medieval floor tile fragments (Flemish) found in area of the two medieval building fragments and iron slag found on crescent shaped platform.
See report (S3) for plan and further details. This site was included in (S4) and the survey is also noted in (S10).
B. Cushion (NLA), December 1994.

1995. Field Observation.
Damage to western precinct wall.
See report (S5) for further details and copy of plan (S11).
B. Cushion (NLA), July 1995.

In 1865 there was a house called Hempton Abbey, suggesting the farmhouse was a more 'statusful' mansion at that time.
See (S6) in file.
E. Rose, 18 July 1995.

Some mole and rabbit disturbance, especially in bank to west. Scrub cut and burned, leaving area of darkened soil towards south end of site. Area fenced off alongside road, where thick scatter of masonry shows area flattened without SMC by Highways Authority, also dump of masonry and earth adjacent.
H. Paterson (NLA), 1 December 1995.

February 1997. Watching Brief.
Observations of new fence to southwest made by NAU.
See report (S7) for further details.

(S8) in file.

April 2012.
Research on documentary sources in progress, identifying the probable location of the church and the precinct boundary which, due to the geographical constraints, is a most unusual shape. The site shares a number of features in common with Bromholm. Further information or publication awaited (S9).
D. Gurney (HES), 12 April 2012.

Monument Types

  • HOLLOW WAY (Unknown date)
  • DRAINAGE DITCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ENCLOSURE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FISHPOND (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HOSPITAL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PRIORY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PRIORY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PRIORY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WATERCOURSE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WELL HEAD (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CAUSEWAY (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FARMSTEAD (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PRISON (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WINDMILL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WINDMILL MOUND (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • FLOOR TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building
  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TF9128 A-C,F-H onwards,W-AL,AP-AT.
---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF522.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A.. 1995. TF9129/AQ,AR.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1994. TF 9128AY - ABB.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 92 NW 2 [3].
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Footpath work is halted. 22 July.
---Designation: DCMS. [?]-2016. Scheduled Monument Consent. SAM Consent. DNF522.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, B. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 395.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Hempton.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Publication: Faden, W. and Barringer, J. C. 1989. Faden's Map of Norfolk in 1797.
<S2>Map: Bryant, A.. 1826. Bryant's Map of Norfolk.
<S3>Unpublished Report: Cushion, B. 1994. Hempton Priory SMR7110. Earthwork Survey Report.
<S4>Monograph: Cushion, B. and Davison, A. 2003. Earthworks of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 104. pp 142-143.
<S5>Unpublished Report: Cushion, B. 1994. Hempton Priory SMR7110 Update Report. Earthwork Survey Report.
<S6>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Mystery of 'abbey' notebook. 18 July.
<S7>Unpublished Contractor Report: Phillips, C. and Percival, J. 1997. Results of Watching Brief at St. Stephen's Priory, Hempton, Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 219.
<S8>Unpublished Document: RCHM. 1968. Ancient Mounments Description.
<S9>*Verbal Communication: Matthew Champion. 2012. [unknown].
<S10>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1995. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1994. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt II pp 230-239. p 233.
<S11>Illustration: Cushion, B. 1995. Hepton Priory SMR 7110 SAM 94. Plan of damage to western precinct wall. Film. 1:250.

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51119Parent of: Roman ditch, medieval buried soil and post-medieval farmyard, Dereham Road (Monument)

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