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Scheduled Monument record MDR5446 - Augustinian Priory (remains of), Dale Abbey

Type and Period (2)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

[SK 43753873] Dale Abbey [GT] (In Ruins). (1) The Augustinian Priory, Dale,"….appears to have been founded c.1160 for a prior and four canons of Calke, who, becoming lazy, were forced to withdraw about twenty years later. It was afterwards colonized by six canons from the Premonstratensian abbey of Tupholne … but it was so poor that they were recalled. Five canons of the same order were sent c.1194 but they too were recalled. Then nine canons came from Newsham c.1200 or 1204. This time the settlement was successful, and it became an independent abbey, with twenty-five canons in 1345, seventeen in 1385, and … 1491. The house was surrendered in1538 by the abbot and sixteen canons, and eleven canons were still receiving pensions in 1553". (2) Little now remains of Dale Abbey. "The chief surviving architectural fragment of the abbey is the great arch of the chancel east window… late 13th century … The Chapter House .. Is now the museum of the scanty finds made on the site … To the south of the cloister the north wall of a cow-house indicates some vaulting of the former Refectory, and further south-west an end of a cottage is locally connected with the monastic Kitchen. Still further away, to the north-west of the site of the Abbey are the remains of the Gatehouse". (3) A small pen-and-ink sketch of the ground plan of the Abbey made by Stukeley was discovered in a private library in Derbyshire in the 19th century. On the formation of the Derbyshire Archaeological Society in 1878 it was decided to excavate at Dale, taking Stukeley's plan as a guide. Excavations began in September 1878 and over the course of 7 weeks, the areas of the greater part of the church and of some of the conventual buildings were cleared out and the foundation walls exposed. These excavations showed inaccuracies in Stukeley's sketch plan. The church consisted of a long narrow choir with a double quasi-aisle to the south - central tower, nave, with north aisle - and north and south transepts, the former having a large square chapel on its eastern side. The cloister was on the south side of the nave and the buildings on the east side of it, joining on to the transept, were a sacristy, divided into two rooms by a wall, and an oblong Chapter House. Beyond this, to the south, was a passage from the cloisters to the cemetery. The parlour, the refectory and kitchen ran parallel with the nave, and parts of the two latter were still standing. No excavations were made at that time on the western side of the cloisters. A large number of encaustic tiles were recovered, as were fragments of stained glass, two Abbey tokens, a larger iron key and the bronze corner clasps and one of the bosses of a book-cover. A series of grave slabs were found on the floor of the Chapter House, while several skeletons were uncovered when driving a necessary drain across the choir and chapels. (4) Excavations resumed in 1879 and enabled the production of a complete ground plan, with the exception of the south and west sides where gardens prevented more than trial holes being dug. South of the main abbey complex 'on the opposite side of the present road' there were said to be foundations, possibly of buildings in the Base Court which could have been in that area. The whole of the western side of the cloister remained unexplored. (5) Description of remains. (6) Ecclesiastical History. (7) Plan, brief description. (8) There are two medieval references to an infirmary at Dale Abbey, one in 1478 and one in 1494. It has always been held - with some show of probability - that in about 1485 what is now Dale church was made into an infirmary chapel and that the old church house was originally the infirmary hall. Excavations began in July 1937 and continued in the summer of 1938 in the hope of recovering the plan of the infirmary buildings. Work commenced in the Abbey Field to the east of the place where the 19th century excavations had terminated. The foundations of several buildings were excavated, the date and function of which were uncertain. Finds included a 13th century head in painted glass, fragments of a medieval glass vessel of Near Eastern type, medieval inlaid tiles, and pottery and various metal objects, including a key. (9) The excavated remains are still visible but becoming overgrown. For the east window see G.P. A0/66/8/6. At SK 43713869 is the remains of the kitchen, GP A0/66/8/7. The remains of the gatehouse in the form of a small square building with buttress and a modern roof is at SK 43623878 (SMR 18744). At SK 43843810 is the remains of the Malthouse, locally associated with the Abbey, a brick building, probably 16th cent. with later additions. The high garden wall to the S.W. is probably contemporary with the house. (10) (SK 43753873). Dale Abbey. Fragmentary remains, (wall footings and the framing and gable of the great East window) of this important Premonstratensian Abbey still survive. Grade 2. (11) SK 43753873 Dale Abbey. Scheduled. (12) Abbey ruins (formerly listed as remains of Dale Abbey). Wall footings and the east wall of Dale Abbey, a house of Premonstratensian Canons founded c1200. Late 13th cent. (13) In 1985 a rescue excavation was undertaken to examine part of the early/mid 13th century south range of Dale Abbey (SK 437387). The range comprised a ground floor undercroft, 10.5m wide, divided longitudinally by a row of stone columns, carrying two bays of quadripartite vaults, which supported a first-floor frater. The vault had fallen and overlying it was part of a tile pavement. Analysis of the clay and designs indicates that the floor-tiles were made at Dale in the late 14th or 15th centuries. At the Dissolution some materials were stripped from the south range; a quantity of animal bone was subsequently deposited in the undercroft. The south range was largely demolished in the mid- or late 17th century, with the exception of part of the north wall which was incorporated into a cow-house. In 1987 an oven and chimney, incorporated into a mid-18th century cottage, was surveyed; it formed part of a structure abutting and contemporary with the south wall of the south range. In 1986-87 a watching brief located a buttress and part of the west wall of the kitchen, lying at the south-east corner of the claustral buildings. (16) The main building stone is Crawshaw Sandstone, a medium to coarse-grained sub-arkose (containing less than 25% felspar) from the base of the Westphalian (Coal Measures), and virtually indistinguishable from the main Namurian sand-stone of central and north Derbyshire which are also sub-arkoses. Fortunately it weathers grey and exhibits strong current-bedding. (17)

Sources/Archives (17)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1913-38. 6".
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Knowles, D & Hadcock, R. 1953. Medieval Religious Houses of England and Wales. p135, 165.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1953. The Buildings of England: Derbyshire, 1st edition. p107-8.
  • <4> Article in serial: St John Hope, W H. 1879. 'On the recent excavations on the site of Dale Abbey, Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 1, pp 100-115, plan.
  • <5> Article in serial: St John Hope, W. 1880. 'On the excavations on the site of Dale Abbey, Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 2, pp 128-134.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Ward, J. 1890. Dale and its Abbey. pp 63-75.
  • <7> Bibliographic reference: V.C.H. Derby, Vol.2, 1907 pp. 69-75.
  • <8> Article in serial: 1914. Arch J. Vol 71, pp 373-4.
  • <9> Article in serial: Colvin, H M. 1938. 'Excavations at Dale Abbey: Interim report', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 59, pp 87-94.
  • <10> Personal Observation: F1 BHS 01-DEC-66.
  • <11> Bibliographic reference: DOE (HHR) Borough of Erewash Derby Dec 1960 9.
  • <12> Bibliographic reference: DOE (IAM) AMs Eng & Wales 3 1978 26.
  • <13> Bibliographic reference: DOE Listed Bldgs Dist of Erewash Derby 6 Nov 1986 10.
  • <14> Index: TPAT. 2130. 2130.
  • <15> Aerial Photograph: Pickering J. 4338/1.
  • <16> Article in serial: Drage, C. 1990. 'Dale Abbey: the south range excavations and survey, 1985-87', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 110, pp 60-92.
  • <17> Bibliographic reference: Stanley, M. 1990. Carved in bright stone: sources of building stone in Derbyshire.



Grid reference Centred SK 43744 38735 (178m by 128m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (4)

  • EDR1838
  • EDR128
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  • EDR711

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Record last edited

Sep 11 2020 1:59PM

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