Record Details

NHER Number:9439
Type of record:Building
Name:Beckett's Chapel, Wymondham


Beckett's Chapel is thought to have been founded in the last few decades of the 12th century, by the son of William d'Aubigny, the founder of Wymondham Abbey. The current chapel structure dates largely to around 1400, when the chapel was rebuilt. In 1559 it was converted to a school, and for some time in the 17th century a lock-up for unconvicted prisoners was attached to the building until at least 1848. In 1873 it was restored and used as a public hall, though it later became a school again. More recently it was used as the Wymondham branch library but is currently Wymondham Arts Centre. Inside, the nave remains undivided and the arch-braced hammerbeam roof can be easily seen.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 1087 0155
Map Sheet:TG10SW

Full description

Beckett's Chapel, Wymondham

December 1950. Listed, Grade I

Guild chapel 84 ft (25.6m) long.

Founded 1174 (Listed Building description (S1)) or 1187 (S2). Chapel rebuilt 1400 (S2) converted to school 1559, restored 1873 as public hall; later a school again, now a library. Unknown source states that there is a blocked Norman window in north wall, blocked by an arch once the east side of bell turret, ornamented on each side, 15th century. Also in north wall two small doorways and blocked openings to two-bay chapel or aisle with 15th century pier. North side not seen by E. Rose (NLA), but south side has large brick slab where south transept used to join, and traces of ?stair turret or portion of this. South doorway around 1400. Small south window above doorway, another above former transept; large window at east end south wall; and similar one to latter in north wall; large east and west
windows. All of these large windows are in vaguely Dec style but date from 1873 and doubtful how near the originals they are, but they do represent something that would fit around (S1)'s date of 1400. Note that east window however is surrounded by mark of much larger pointed blocked window. Stone buttresses. Arch-braced hammerbeam roof (but
interior not seen). House built against southwest corner in 18th century, south exterior, east and west walls seen by
E. Rose (NAU), 13 February 1980.

Department of the Environment 1984 state this building is still scheduled (But D. Sherlock says not so. 1985); also listed (S1).

1984. Plaque of fleur de lys over door, said to be Bath stone and so late, fell off and broken.
Information from C. Carus.

Old photo of building in 1870 reproduced in (S1) shows that before restoration the larger east window was intersected tracery, but south window of chancel as now. East window as shown looks as if it might be of post medieval date.

A 'clink' or lock-up for unconvicted prisoners was attached to the building from the 17th century (at least) until 1848.

November 2008.
Plans to convert the chapel into an arts centre.
See (S3) for further details
H. White, (NLA), 23 September 2009

Opened as Wymondham Arts Centre.
A. Beckham (HES), 12 July 2012.

March 2010.
Groundworks by EDF Energy immediately west of the chapel (approx 3m from the west wall) to remove the remains of an electricity substation and associated underground cabling have revealed part of a layer of orange mortar with flints, possibly a make-up layer for the floor of a building abutting the chapel shown on a map of 1810 (S4). This appears to be roughly aligned with the two buttresses supporting the west wall. Work continues.
D. Gurney (NLA), 30 March 2010.

June 2015. Excavation.
A small archaeological excavation took place immediately to the west of Becket’s Chapel after in situ human remains were discovered during the installation of broadband architecture. Two graves of probable medieval date were present, confirming that the chapel had been associated with a burial ground. This work also exposed part of the footings of the post-medieval building attached to the south-western corner of Becket’s Chapel. These footings were made of re-used medieval limestone blocks and soft red bricks. It remains uncertain whether the medieval masonry originated from a building on this site or further afield.
See report (S5) and NHER 61905 for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), September 2016.

Monument Types

  • CHAPEL (Medieval to 16th Century - 1174 AD? to 1559 AD)
  • PRISON (16th Century to 19th Century - 1600 AD? to 1848 AD)
  • HOUSE (17th Century to 21st Century - 1700 AD? to 2100 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument
  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF29.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 10 SW 17 [2].
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Publication: Cattermole, P. 2007. Wymondham Abbey. p 65.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, B. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 798.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Wymondham.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Study by architects could help to improve arts centre. 6 May.
<S1>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1297495.
<S2>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1988. Contrast of then and now. 21 November.
<S3>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2008. Spotlight on arts centre plan for chapel. 20 November.
<S4>*Verbal Communication: Peter Codling. 2010. [unknown].
<S5>Unpublished Contractor Report: Hickling, S. 2015. 4 Church Street, Wymondham, Norfolk. Archaeological Monitoring. NPS Archaeology. 2015/1123.

Related records - none

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