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Leominster Priory

SMR Number
: 725
Grid Reference
: SO 4992 5928

Benedictine Priory. Around AD 660 a community of nuns was established by Merewalh of Mercia. In 1046 Abbess carried off by Earl Sweyn. For 70 years the conventual property passed to crown. In 1120 property made over to Abbey of Reading, a colony of monks sent to establish new house. Site suppressed 1539. (1)
Part of Church survives (SMR 722), Reredorter (SMR 721), Precinct boundary (SMR 728) and Mill (SMR 726). Claustral buildings have not survived above ground. (2)
Established in AD 666 for monks and nuns, destroyed by Danes. Rebuilt as convent but dissolved in 1046. Granted to Reading Abbey 1123. Sometimes reckoned to have been Cluniac until 1207. (3)(4)
Excavation to the north revealed possible precinct wall and fishpond. (6)
South transept and presbytery traced out and surrounding aisle and chapels of latter by excavation carried out by interested Leominster people at the time of the construction of the railway (7).
Watching brief found east wall of cloister walk below the west elevation of the workhouse. (8)
Leominster Priory medieval tiles drawn in 1991 and referenced to sources in the literature.(10)
A geophysical survey in 1997 and 2003 found evidence of structural remains to the north of the church. These finds are not consistent with the interpretation made by the RCHME in 1934. If they are the remains of a cloister it is considerably bigger than originally thought. The discovery of a substantial circular structure beneath the car park was not expected. The resisitivity survey found the possible remains of a fish farm or storage feature in the car park area. (11)(12) (14)
2002 aerial photograph coverage from the south-west. (15) (16) (17) (18) (19) (20)
An evaluation was carried out in 2005, the main aim of which was to locate and date a circular structure that had been identified by geophysical survey. The evaluation revealed the feature to be the foundations of a post 1948 car park. However, the evaluation did identify Saxon activity, including an assemblage of faunal and fish remains. The evaluation also located the western arm of the priory cloisters in their expected position, and a large collection of glazed Medieval floor tiles. (21) (22)
Analysis of the artefacts from the 2005 evaluation was carried out in 2008. The earliest artefacts comprised a thin scatter of Mesolithic and Neolithic/Early Bronze Age flint, followed by a small amount of Roman material. Significant Anglo-Saxon deposits were defined and, though these were not productive of material culture, they did produce rich evidence of food consumption and diet, including indications of high status. Minimal evidence for the period of the Medieval foundation of the priory and its operation was followed by substantial assemblages of building materials associated with the dissolution period, and particularly of Medieval floor tile which had probably been taken from the east end of the church. Subsequent activity was associated with continuous deposition of finds on the site up to the 19th/20th centuries. (23)
Letters re Scheduled Monument Consent (24) (25)

Monument Type(s)

  1. NUNNERY (Early Medieval - 410 AD to 1065 AD)
  2. PRIORY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Files

    Sources and Further Reading

    1. <1>SHE11631 - Bibliographic reference: Reeves, N. Priory of St Peter and St Paul. SMR file.
    2. <2>SHE9349 - Bibliographic reference: Roberts, J. 1976. Notes from the County Archaeological Officer. SMR file.
    3. <3>SHE9690 - Bibliographic reference: Knowles D and R N Hadcock. 1953. Medieval Religious Houses.
    4. <4>SHE267 - Bibliographic reference: Royal Commission on Historical Monuments. 1934. Inventory of Monuments, Herefordshire North-West, Vol III. Herefordshire North-West, Vol III. III.
    5. <5>SHE10741 - Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1963. Herefordshire. The Buildings of England. 223.
    6. <6>SHE11350 - Unpublished Report: Rahtz, S. 1979. Pinsley Mead Gas Pipe Trench. SMR file.
    7. <7>SHE13920 - Bibliographic reference: Freeman, E A. 1853. Excavations at Leominster Priory Church. The Ecclesiologist. 96. Pages 143.
    8. <8>SHE15095 - Unpublished Report: Cook, M J. 01/05/1997. Salvage recording at Leominster Old Priory, Leominster.. Worcestershire Archaeological Service. 561.
    9. <9>SHE14651 - Bibliographic reference: Hillaby, Joe. 1995. Leominster and Hereford: The origins of the Diocese. Medieval Art, Architecture and Archaeology at Hereford edited by Whitehead David, 1-15.
    10. <10>SHE15406 - Bibliographic reference: Brown, Duncan and Hilary White. 1991. Leominster Priory Tiles. unpublished report.
    11. <11>SHE17841 - Unpublished Report: Barker, P. 04/1997. A report for Leominster District Council on a Geophysical Survey carried out at Priory Church, Leominster: Volume 1.. Stratascan.
    12. <12>SHE15624 - Unpublished Report: Barker, P P and G F Rarity. 02/2003. A Report for The Friends of Leominster Priory on a Geophysical Survey carreid out at Leominster Priory. Stratascan. 1730.
    13. <13>SHE15787 - Unpublished Report: Brown, Duncan and Laura Templeton. 1995. Archaeological Assessment at Leominster Priory.. Worcestershire Archaeological Service. 364. Rep No. 364.
    14. <14>SHE16165 - Bibliographic reference: Anon. 12/2004. Short article 'Leominster'. Current Archaeology. 195. 124-128. 195. Pages 124-128.
    15. <15>SHE16713 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 13/07/2002. 02-MB-0010. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2002. Oblique. B/W.
    16. <16>SHE16714 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 13/07/2002. 02-MB-0011. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2002. Oblique. B/W.
    17. <17>SHE16715 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 13/07/2002. 02-MB-0012. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2002. Oblique. B/W.
    18. <18>SHE16716 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 13/07/2002. 02-MB-0013. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2002. Oblique. B/W.
    19. <19>SHE16717 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 13/07/2002. 02-MB-0014. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2002. Oblique. B/W.
    20. <20>SHE16718 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 13/07/2002. 02-MB-0015. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2002. Oblique. B/W.
    21. <21>SHE17131 - Unpublished Report: Watson, Bruce et al. 16/12/2006. The evaluation of the western cloister walk of Leominster Priory, Herefordshire: an interim report.. Museum of London Archaeology Service. OPL05.
    22. <22>SHE17200 - Bibliographic reference: Bowen, Julie. 03/2007. The Medieval Floor Tiles from Leominster Priory. dissertation.
    23. <23>SHE18754 - Article in serial: Shoesmith, Ron. 2008. Archaeology, 2008, Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club. 56, 2008. 114-131.
    24. <24>SHE18371 - Document: English Heritage. 2010. Letter granting Scheduled Monument Consent for proposed works at Leominster Priory.
    25. <25>SHE18372 - Document: English Heritage. 2010. Letter granting Scheduled Monument Consent for proposed works at Leominster Priory.

    Associated events

    1. EHE43737 - Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey, 2002-2006 (Ref: SMR Event: 43737)
    2. EHE34716 - Leominster Priory, Leominster (Ref: SMR Event: 34716)
    3. EHE41920 - Evaluation, Western Cloister Walk, Leominster Priory, 2005 (Ref: SMR Event: 41920)

    Protected status

    1. Scheduled Monument 145: Leominster Priory
    2. Conservation Area CON_AR_028: Leominster

    Associated Historic Landscape Character Records

    1. HHE233 - Urbanisation - Urbanisation 2
    Last Updated: 23/07/2010 12:35:57