Record Details

NHER Number:3924
Type of record:Monument
Name:Priory of Holy Trinity, SS Mary and Mary Magdalen (Pentney Abbey)

Summary

The medieval Augustinian priory here was founded in 1135 and dissolved during the Reformation (1537). The gatehouse ruins, which date to the 14th century, remain and a nearby 17th century house and barn incorporate reused stone from the priory. The ruined gatehouse and farm buildings are visible on aerial photography. A wide range of finds have been made from 1900 to 2001 and include swords, human remains, coins, metalwork, a medieval harness pendant and medieval weight.

Between 2010 and 2013 groundworks in the vicinity of the farm buildings exposed a variety of significant remains including a medieval wall that probably related to one of the priory’s main buildings, possible sections of the priory’s boundary wall and a number of wall fragments of a more uncertain nature. The restoration work within the gatehouse exposed a number of pre-dissolution deposits including the remains of a cobbled surface.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TF 7007 1209
Map Sheet:TF71SW
Parish:PENTNEY, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

This medieval Augustinian priory was founded in 1135 and dissolved in the Reformation of 1537. A 14th century gatehouse remains here and a nearby ?17th century house (NHER 55920) and barn incorporates reused stone from the priory.

October 1951. Listed Grade I.
Listing Description:
Gatehouse, late 14th century of broken flint with some carstone and brick, and stone dressings. Roofless. The facade to north is a wide central bay with flanking polygonal turrets of 2 storeys. It has a -plinth of moulded stone, a wide central gateway with 3-centred arch having quatrefoils with blank shields to spandrels, and a string course above. The second storey has a central opening of 2 trefoil-headed lights under a 4-centred arch; with a shallow angled gable above with embattled parapet in stone having blank panels. Polygonal flanking turrets with roll-moulded stone angles; turret to left with some pierced limestone stones; both turrets with embattled dressed stone parapets and 2 single trefoil headed lights. The facade to the left and right of the turrets with buttresses at angles, lancet to left. The rear is of 3 bays, 3 storeys, with the central bay higher, embattled sloping stone parapet; bays articulated by stepped buttresses. Central bay with 4-centred arch, string course and 2-light opening as to north. Bays to left and right ground floor with single cusped light, now blocked under square head; openings to first and second floor as to central bay. East return with embattled parapet, one gargoyle, remains of brick stack, string course to left at second floor level, double light under square head to first and second floor left. Square stair turret forward to right with south facing doorway. West return of 3 storeys with embattled stone parapet, 2 large lion head gargoyles, string course at second floor level; remains of central stack; double trefoil headed lights under square head to first and second floor right. Left facade slanted forward at angle. Interior: roof fallen; internal walls of chalk faced with brick and flint; springing for vault ribs from rear of north and south arches.
Information taken from the listing.
H. White (NLA), 9 October 2009.

For full details see report in file.
Ancient Monuments description, aerial photograph references (S1, S2, S3) and photos and 1981 excavation section (S4) in file. 1991 drawn sections (S5), elevations and plans (S6) in file.
RCHME survey in file.
E. Rose (NLA), 3 March 1999.

Pre-1900. Swords and coins found.
1981. Human remains and mortar pit excavated. Medieval sherds, tile, coins, Roman coins.
1986. Soilmark seen.
1987. Fenland fieldwalking. Medieval sherds.

1992. Building Survey.
Study of gatehouse by RCHME. See report (S13).
P. Watkins (HES), 16 February 2014.

22 July 1993. NLA aerial photography.
Farm and ruined gatehouse visible.
Parchmarks visible to the east.
M. Brennand (NLA), 8 February 2001.

1997. Geophysical survey.
See images from resistivity survey undertaken by M. De Bootman in 1997.
See (S8). This survey is also noted in (S12).
S. Howard (HES), 2 March 2011.

1998. Metal detecting.
Found at [1]:
Medieval copper alloy harness pendant (S16) and other metalwork.

2001.
Schedule greatly extended, and now including NHER 23013, 23240, 36585, 23635 and 31143.
D. Gurney (NLA), 23 January 2002.

October 2001. Metal detecting.
?Medieval weight.
See file.
A. Rogerson (NLA), 13 December 2001.

October 2009.
Pentney Abbey was founded in 1130 by Robert de Vaux. The gatehouse bears some 16th century cannon ball marks.
H. White (NLA), 8 October 2009.

November 2010. Watching Brief.
During the monitoring of ground works to install a new septic tank and drains a 18th/19th century field drain, possible wall foundation of unknown date and an alignment of post-medieval structures were observed.
See report (S7) for further details.
S. Howard (HES), 16 February 2011.

February 2011. Watching Brief.
During archaeological monitoring the remains of a substantial wall were revealed to the south of the post-medieval farm buildings. The wall is likely to be of medieval date and relates to one of the main priory buildings. A possible medieval drain was also revealed running parallel to the wall.
See report (S9) for further details.
S. Howard (HES), 11 April 2011.

Abbey Farmhouse is now recorded separately under NHER 55920.
A. Cattermole (HES), 8 August 2011.

January 2012.
Section 17 agreement signed, covering archaeological investigations within the gatehouse.
See (S10).
D. Robertson (HES), 19 January 2012.

January 2012. Test Pitting.
Evaluation within gatehouse ahead of proposed conservation work by English Heritage. Four test pits were excavated in order to establish the depths of any surviving floor surfaces associated with the pre-Dissolution phases of activity. All of the test pits were successful in identifying deposits of probable pre-Dissolution date, although apart from a very small area of stones in the western chamber there was little evidence for surviving floor surfaces. Shallow spreads of mortar may however have been bedding material associated with tiles or other material that had been deliberately stripped out following the dissolution. It was noted that the only surface identified within the eastern chamber was somewhat deeper than those within those of the central chamber, possibly indicating a step down. Deposits recorded in two of the test pits were possibly associated with the construction of the gatehouse. It is possible that the gatehouse was put to some form of agricultural use during the post-medieval period and it is suggested that this could explain the relatively deep soil deposits observed in a number of the test pits.
A small fragment of window glass was the only object of possible pre-dissolution date.
See report (S14) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S15).
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2017.149).
P. Watkins (HES), 1 February 2018. Amended 19 May 2019.

February 2012. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of various groundworks at the gatehouse, including the reduction of the ground level within the building itself, the stripping of an area for a new access drive and the excavation of several service trenches.
Notable deposits exposed within the gatehouse included patches of a carstone cobble surface that were observed in both the gateway and the two side chambers. Work to the south of the gateway demonstrated that this cobbled surface had also extended beyond the gatehouse. A layer of compacted gravel observed in two places within the gateway were either the remains of a road surface or a bedding layer for a cobble surface. Structural elements exposed included foundations, a door jamb at the entrance of the west room side chamber and the remains of a fireplace in the east room. As noted during the preceding evaluation there was a particular deep soil deposit present in the east room.
A large number of medieval roof tiles were present in the lower deposits removed from the gatehouse, these presumably the remains of a tiled roof. Other medieval finds included several early bricks and a number of Flemish floor tiles. All of the other finds recovered were of much more recent date and almost certainly represent the periodic dumping of waste within the gatehouse after it fell out of use. The selected post-medieval and modern finds retained include pottery sherds, bricks, tiles, glass bottles, clay tobacco pipe fragments and a number of metal objects.

The stripping of the area for the access driveway exposed a patch of mortared cobbles and a single post-hole in the vicinity of the gatehouse. The remains of two heavily truncated north-east to south-west aligned flint and carstone walls were also identified, approximately 35m to the north of the gatehouse. The remains of a further three walls were recorded during the excavation of a drainage trench to the east of the gatehouse. The northernmost of these walls was aligned east-west and appeared to line up with a scar on the front of the gatehouse; suggesting that it may well have formed part of the priory’s boundary wall. The remains of a wall of similar construction were noted in a drainage trench excavated to the east of the gatehouse and it is possible that this also formed part of a wall around the priory. The other two walls observed in the eastern drainage trench were located to the south-east of the gatehouse and were of a more uncertain nature, although it was noted that one contained a number of reused Barnack stones.
Although extensive the electricity supply trench excavated to the east of the gatehouse revealed no buried walls or other archaeologically significant features. A sewer trench opened to the north-west of the gatehouse also exposed no significant remains.
See report (S14) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S15).
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2017.149).
P. Watkins (HES), 1 February 2018. Amended 19 May 2019.

October 2013. Watching Brief.
Excavation of two short trenches for drainage works associated with restoration of the gatehouse at Pentney Abbey was monitored. Works on the western side of the building were extremely shallow, only penetrating the topsoil to a depth of 100mm. Works on the eastern side of the gatehouse revealed 400mm of topsoil overlaying 100mm to 200mm of sand subsoil, exposing natural carstone in the deepest areas of excavation. No archaeological features were observed and finds were limited to small fragments of later post-medieval peg tiles and occasional modern debris which was not recorded.
See (S11) for further information.
H. Hamilton (HES), 27 November 2014.

Monument Types

  • POST HOLE (Unknown date)
  • WALL (Unknown date)
  • WALL (Unknown date)
  • WALL (Unknown date)
  • FINDSPOT (Prehistoric - 1000000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BOUNDARY WALL? (Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1539 AD?)
  • COBBLED SURFACE (NHER) (Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1539 AD?)
  • DRAIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PIT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PRIORY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL (Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1539 AD?)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval to 21st Century - 1540 AD to 2100 AD)
  • HOUSE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • STRUCTURE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FIELD DRAIN (17th Century to 19th Century - 1700 AD to 1899 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Undated)
  • NAIL (Unknown date)
  • SWORD (Undated)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Undated)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BRASS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BRICK (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BROOCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BUCKLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FLOOR TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FLOOR TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FLOOR TILE? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HARNESS PENDANT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOULD (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • RING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROOF TILE? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • STAINED GLASS (WINDOW) (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BOTTLE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • BRICK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CHIMNEY (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CLAY PIPE (SMOKING) (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CLAY PIPE (SMOKING) (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FIRE GRATE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FLAT IRON (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PANTILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PANTILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval to 21st Century - 1540 AD to 2050 AD)
  • ROOF SLATE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SPOON (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TOKEN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WINDOW (Post Medieval - 1540 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • PEG TILE (18th Century to 19th Century - 1750 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PANTILE (Early 20th Century to 21st Century - 1901 AD to 2050 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument
  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---*Fieldwork: Fenland Survey. PEN AK. FENS.
---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF76.
---Serial: Blomefield, F.. 1808. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk.. Vol IX. p 41.
---Publication: De Bootman, M.. n.d.. The Priory and Pentney.
---Monograph: Ashley, S. 2002. Medieval Armorial Horse Furniture in Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 101.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 71 SW 3.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Publication: Knowles, D. and Hadcock, R. N. 1971. Medieval Religious Houses of England and Wales. pp 142, 170.
---Archive: Norfolk Monuments Management Project File.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, W. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 589-590.
---Photograph: Photographs of Pentney Priory of Holy Trinity, SS Mary and Mary Magdalen, Pentney. Black and white.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. The gateway to a bright new future. 7 March.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Pentney.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Photograph: BER 18-20.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. You could own a piece of history. 9 October.
---Leaflet: Belton Duffey. 2006. Pentney Abbey. Belton Duffey.
---*Digital Archive: Norfolk Monuments Management Project Photographic Archive.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2016. Gatehouse is restored to its former glory for a brighter future ahead. 14 June.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2014. Members of the public can get a look at historic building’s major overhaul. 12 March.
---Designation: English Heritage. 1990-2013. English Heritage Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF76.
---Designation: English Heritage. 1994? -2011?. English Heritage Digital Designation Record. Record. DNF76.
---Designation: King's Lynn Conservation Team. [Unknown]. Listed Building Record Cards. [Unknown]. DNF4933.
<S1>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TF 7012ACC - ACE, ACG.
<S2>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1993. TF 7012ACA - ACB.
<S3>Aerial Photograph: Unit TF7012 B-,Y-AQ,AV-AZ,ABA,ABF-ABG,ABN,ABT-ABZ.
<S4>Illustration: Unknown. Unknown. Section drawing. Paper. Unknown.
<S5>Illustration: Unknown. Unknown. Section drawing. Paper. Unknown.
<S6>Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
<S7>Unpublished Contractor Report: Newman, J. 2010. Pentney Abbey, Pentney, Norfolk. Archaeological Monitoring Report. John Newman Archaeological Services.
<S8>Illustration: de Bootman, M.. 1997. Geophysical survey at Pentney Abbey..
<S9>Unpublished Contractor Report: Newman, J. 2011. Pentney Abbey, Pentney, Norfolk. Archaeological Monitoring Report. John Newman Archaeological Services.
<S10>Unpublished Document: Norfolk County Council. 2011-2012. Norfolk Monuments Management Project Section 17 agreement.
<S11>Unpublished Contractor Report: Newman, J. 2013. Pentney Abbey, Pentney, Norfolk. Archaeological Monitoring Report. John Newman Archaeological Services.
<S12>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1998. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1997. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIII Pt I pp 193-210. p 204.
<S13>Unpublished Contractor Report: Brodie, A. and Burgess, R. 1992. Historic Building Report. Pentney Priory, Pentney, Norfolk. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England.
<S14>Article in Serial: Cattermole, A. 2013. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2012. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLVI Pt IV pp 568-576. p 575.
<S15>Unpublished Contractor Report: Adams, D. and Cruse, R. 2016. Archaeological Evaluation and Watching Brief at Pentney Abbey Gatehouse, Norfolk. NPS Archaeology. 2971.
<S16>Illustration: Ashely, S. 1998. Drawing of a medieval copper alloy horse harness pendant.

Related records

3456Parent of: Wormegay Priory (Monument)
MNO7510Related to: Abbey Farmhouse adjacent to Augustinian Priory, PENTNEY (Revoked)
MNO7512Related to: Remains of Augustinian Priory (Gatehouse) PENTNEY (Revoked)

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