Chester Abbey of St Werburgh

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are major building remains

NameChester Abbey of St Werburgh
Alternative Names
Historic CountryCheshire
Modern AuthorityCheshire
1974 AuthorityCheshire
Civil ParishChester

Abbot and Convent granted licence to crenellate in 1377, confirmed 8 months later, after Edward's death. There are remains of the Abbey gateways. Chester Cathedral and close buildings are originally the Abbey church and buildings.

Abbey Gateway–Gatehouse. c1300, altered c1800. Red coursed sandstone with grey slate roof having gables to front and rear; the Gateway formed the main access to the precinct of St Werburgh's Abbey, now Abbey Square. EXTERIOR: the face to Northgate Street has a full-width deep segmental relieving arch, containing a central 2-centre vehicular archway and a pedestrian archway, south, both with double hollow chamfers; an empty broad niche to each side of the vehicular arch; a plain rebuilt buttress at the south-west corner; a moulded stringcourse at upper storey floor level; upper storey rebuilt c1800; the central Gothick sash has intersecting tracery in an arched moulded opening; a coved stringcourse at the base of the plainly coped shallow gable. The face to Abbey Square has a broader vehicular archway with eroded triple hollow chamfers. A diminishing square turret at the south-east corner has a boarded pair of doors in an arched doorway with a small stair-window above; an eroded flat buttress at the north-east corner; a central Gothick sash above the archway in an eroded moulded 2-centre arched medieval opening; a recessed 12-pane window with sash-boxes exposed, to each side; a Gothick fixed-light window to the attic in the recessed gable. INTERIOR: the 3-bay vault to the archway has hollow-chamfered diagonal and ridge ribs. The stone stair against the south wall is probably c1800. The front room above the arch, evidently formerly a robing room, has ranges of cupboards with fielded panels to doors, built against 2 walls; the panel to the upper cupboard above the doorway has an armorial painting inscribed EDMUND CHESTER; the armorial panel immediately north of the doorway is inscribed SAMUEL PEPLOE LLB, Chancellor

The painter was probably of the Randle Holmes family. There are no visible features of special interest in the rear upper rooms or the attic. (Listed Building report–ref. Pevsner)

Not scheduled

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 ReferenceSJ404665
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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  • Lewis, C.P. and Thacker, A.T. (eds), 2005, VCH Cheshire Vol. 5 Part 2 p. 185-204 online transcription
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and Edward Hubbard, 1971, Buildings of England: Cheshire (Harmondsworth)
  • Knowles, David and Hadcock, R. Neville, 1971, Medieval religious houses in England and Wales (Longmans) p. 62, 423, 470
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 218, 417 online copy
  • Ormerod, G., 1819, History of the County Palatine and city of Chester (London) Vol. 1 p. 161-64, 212-19 online copy


  • Speed, John, 1611-12, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain online copy


  • Coulson, C., 1982, 'Hierarchism in Conventual Crenellation: An Essay in the Sociology and Metaphysics of Medieval Fortification' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 26 p. 69-100 see online copy
  • 1937, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 94 p. 308-10 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1916, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1374-77) Vol. 16 p. 442 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Patent Rolls Richard II (1377-81) Vol. 1 p. 56 online copy