St Mary's Abbey, Kenilworth

Description of this historic site

The remains of St Mary's Abbey, Kenilworth. Founded as a Priory in the Medieval period, it was promoted to an Abbey in the middle of the fifteenth century. It was dissolved in 1538. The site is in the north east part of Abbey Fields.

Notes about this historic site

1 Priory of Augustin canons, afterwards an Abbey, was founded in 1122 by Godfrey de Clinton about the same time as the Castle. The Abbey was dissolved in April 1538.
2 S of the High Street, behind the Church of St Nicholas, lie the scant remains of the Augustinian Monastery, founded in 1122 as a priory but raised to the rank of abbey about 1450. The only buildings of which substantial proportions remain are the gatehouse (PRN 6007) and, S of it, a building identified as the Guest House (PRN 6008). Of the other buildings only a few shapeless blocks of rubble rise above ground level. Excavation has revealed part of the ground plan, including the church and a church tower (PRN 5384), a chapter house and cloisters (PRN 5385) and the infirmary (PRN 5386).
7 Gateway: a 14th century red sandstone building in fair condition but very overgrown. Domestic building: 14th century in red sandstone, originally with an upper floor approx 8ft from the ground. Gable ends, one of timber filled in with brick-work. The two buildings form a small part of this large complex.
8 1951: The remains of the Abbey consist mainly of turf-covered foundations, although parts still stand to original height. 1968: All foundations E of the path which bisects the site have been levelled and grassed over.
9 Resistivity survey carried out by the University of Warwick in 1996 gave disappointing results over part of the Abbey church, but suggested the site of a possible building or quarry just outside the gatehouse (see also WA 8404).
10 During excavation of a cable trench for floodlighting of St. Nicholas’s Church, a sandstone wall was revealed, possibly part of the monastic precinct boundary, constructed around the time that the parish church of St. Nicholas was built.
11 The observation of the removal and replacement of play equipment (SP28507227) revealed medieval roof tile and some glazed floor tile.
12 Further observation of the removal of play equipment and excavation of trenches for new equipment (SP28477229) revealed evidence of red sandstone walls, possibly from a complex associated with the abbey. The walls were overlaid by a layer of sandstone rubble brick and tile, from which a single sherd of 14th/15th century green glazed jug was recovered, suggesting a medieval date for the walls.
13 The site is within the Scheduled area of the SAM of Kenilworth Abbey (Monument Number 35115).
14 A dissertation on the Abbey within its wider landscape.

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