Thelsford Priory Church

Description of this historic site

Archaeological excavation revealed the church at Thelsford Priory which was built during the Medieval period. It had a cloister and appears to have been constructed of limestone and sandstone. Some floor tiles were still in place. It was situated 700m south east of Wasperton.

Notes about this historic site

1 Excavated in 1966. The church was built entirely of stone.

2 The church was located to the E of the site. It was cruciform with cloisters in the SW angle of the transepts and was possibly of at least three periods. The walls appeared to have been limestone and blocks of green sandstone, many fragments of which were found during excavation. A small area 8.5m by 3.9m was opened up to ascertain the state of the walls. The main walls were mostly robbed out, but the floor levels were preserved with very fine tile impressions and a few floor tiles remained in position. There was a quantity of decorated window glass and window leading and also a piece of fabric which may contain gold thread. The trial trench located three graves at the E end of the church. One contained a lead-encased skeleton, another was covered by a broken yellow sandstone grave-slab which had traces of a foliate cross. All three were left in situ. At the W end was a large brick-built tomb, which was badly robbed. There was a further tomb at the N exterior of the church, and in this area was evidence for 16th-17th century stone robbing. The floors of the church were left in situ and therefore it was not possible to date the various periods of construction.

3 Area of SAM revised 1996. The 13th century church was probably a single-celled rectangular building when first constructed. It was then extended E, probably in the 14th century, to create a cruciform plan, which is still preserved beneath the ground.

4Priory of the short-lived Augustinian order of the Holy Sepulchre, founded prior to 1200. After 1214, a hospital is recorded there for the relief of the poor and reception of pilgrims. It appears to have been granted to the Trinitarians in 1214, but did not come into their full possession until after 1224. It was dissolved in 1538. Excavations have located the church, which although robbed of walling, was shown to be of three periods. It was cruciform in plan, and the claustral complex extended South from the South-West angle of the transept. Trial trenching located other buildings to the West and North of the church, but these were either timber or timber on stone footings. Two fishponds are extant as earthworks connected by a stone sluice. There is evidence of a precinct wall to the South. A prehistoric ditch was also found during the excavations.

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