Wilmington Priory

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameWilmington Priory
Alternative Names
Historic CountrySussex
Modern AuthorityEast Sussex
1974 AuthorityEast Sussex
Civil ParishLong Man

Benedictine Alien Priory founded before 1243 and dissolved 1414, on site of and incorporating earlier Alien Priory Cell founded before 1086 and dissolved before 1243. The Abbey of Grestein held lands here at Domesday, other endowments had been granted and a small cell was established. The earliest record of the priory, of St Mary, is in 1243 when the cell appears to have been enlarged to accomodate several monks under a prior, however, run much as a grange. The present L-shaped house is a principally C14 building incorporating some C13 work, the whole altered and adapted in C18. To the south west of the house are the ruins of C14 Upper Hall, while to the north are further ruins, beneath which is C14 vaulted undercroft. (PastScape)

The property of the Sussex Archaeological Trust. This priory was an offshoot of the Benedictine Abbey of Grestain in Normandy which was founded about 1200 as a sort of grange or manorhouse for the supervision of the Abbey's English estates. It was suppressed with all the alien houses in 1414. The present L-shaped house is a principally C14 building incorporating some C13 work, the whole altered and adapted in the C18. Two storeys. Five windows. Faced with flints and stone rubble with red brick window dressings, the south wing cemented with an angle buttress. Hipped tiled roof. Sash windows with glazing bars intact. Doorway with flat hood on brackets. The west end of the ground floor was the porch. This has C14 stone quadripartite vaulting and a C13 stone pointed north doorway. To the south-west of the house are the ruins of the C14 Upper Hall of ashlar, flints and some brick consisting of 2 octagonal turrets with a wall between having a large window of 3 tiers of 3 lights with stone mullions and transoms. To the north of the house are further ruins, beneath which is a C14 vaulted undercroft. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

In addition to a defensive gatehouse there was a three storeyed drum tower, although this was destroyed in C18. The house had plain, not embattled, parapets. Presumably the closeness to the River Cuckmere and the south coast meant the site was perceived as being vulnerable to 'french' raids although all monastic house, particularly alien priories, could attract local resentment from their tenants and neighbours. The 'fortifications' seem to be the usual gatehouse and precinct wall of any priory, although the drum tower may have functioned as secure vault.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ543042
Latitude50.816780090332
Longitude0.189740002155304
Eastings554350
Northings104200
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Books

  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 417-8
  • Jones, R., 2003, 'Hastings to Herstmonceux: the castles of Sussex' in Rudling, D. (ed) The archaeology of Sussex to AD2000 (Great Dunham: Heritage Marketing and Publications) p. 171-8
  • Martin, D. and Martin, B., 1988, Wilmington Priory Reports of Historic Architecture in Sussex 1046 p. 1-16 (plans)
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1973, 'Alien houses: Priory of Wilmington' VCH Sussex Vol. 2 p. 122-3 online transcription
  • Knowles, David and Hadcock, R. Neville, 1971, Medieval religious houses in England and Wales (Longman)┬áp85, 94

Journals

  • Godfrey, W.E., 1961, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 116 p. 237
  • Godfrey, W.H., 1928, 'Wilmington priory: an architectural description' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 69 p. 1-27
  • Bugden, 1928, 'Wilmington priory: historical notes' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 69 p. 29-52
  • Cooper, G.M., 1851, 'Illustrations of Wilmington Priory and church' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 4 p. 61-3 online copy