Information for record number MWA203:
Polesworth Abbey, Polesworth

Summary Polesworth Abbey, a nunnery house governed by an abbess. The Abbey dates to the Early Medieval period and lies 200m east of Bridge Street, Polesworth.
What Is It?  
Type: Nunnery, Abbey, Market, Fair, Benedictine Nunnery, Building, Robber Trench, Floor, Fireplace, Culvert, Drain
Period: Medieval (1066 AD - 1539 AD)
Where Is It?  
Parish: Polesworth
District: North Warwickshire, Warwickshire
Grid Reference: SK 26 02
(Data represented on this map shows the current selected record as a single point, this is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent an accurate or complete representation of archaeological sites or features)
Level of Protection National - Old SMR PrefRef (Grade: )
Scheduled Monument (Grade: )
Sites & Monuments Record

Source Number  

1 Legends about the foundation survive and place the foundation at a number of dates between 839 and 1066. A certain amount of the history of the Abbey is known. It was disolved in 1539.
2 After the dissolution the site passed to Francis Goodere, whose son built a manor house on the site of the Abbess's lodgings. This was later replaced by a vicarage, but some of the remains of the manor house, which may include some parts of the Abbey, were retained. The gate house and Abbey church also survive.
8 A number of limited excavations have been undertaken and these enable a hypothetical reconstruction to be made of the layout of the Abbey buildings.
11 During 1996 a survey was made of the Abbey cloister standing masonry. Observations of the surviving structure appear to reveal about 16 structural phases in the masonry. Using this and the historical sources it is possible to produce a fairly convincing building sequence from the 12th to the 20th century, in which much of the surviving structure turns out to be Post Medieval.
12 Observations of the south-western perimeter wall together with an analysis of the supposed position of the ford preceding Polesworth's bridge led to an alternative suggested precinct outline and pre-bridge road line.
13 Investigation of north and east cloister walls accompanying restoration works. Trenching revealed four in-situ burials and allowed medieval/post-medieval cloister developments to be recorded together with elevations.
14 Market Charter for Thursday Market granted 14th April 1242 by Henry III to Margerey, Abbess of Polesworth and the Nuns. Charter for fair vigil feast morrow Margaret (20th July) granted 14th April 1242 by Henry III to Margery, Abbess of Polesworth and the Nuns.
18 A programme of recording and observation was undertaken by Warwickshire Museum Field Services group between 2002-2006. A reburied medieval stone coffin and part of a brick vault was recorded in the interior of the church, during the excavation of a statue base. medieval and later masonry was recorded during limited excavation outside the church. This may have belonged either to a monastic range west of the west range to the cloister, perhaps part of the Abbess' Lodging, or to the west end of a building set against the church. An undercroft was also recorded.
19 Geophysical survey and subsequent trial trenching recorded a number of building ranges to the south and east of the Abbey buildings. Three 13th-century graves were identified, together with early 14th-century buildings. Accommodation ranges and possibly part of the Abbess' lodgings were recorded.
20 Possible expansion of settlement onto market place, possibly at the time of building the Abbey gatehouse.
21 During trial trenching of possible sites for an extension to the south-east of the existing 19th-centry vicarage and a new vicarage to the west, well-preserved medieval building foundations with surviving floor levels were recorded. At least two later 13th/early 14th stone buildings were recorded to the west of the present vicarage, probably accommodation blocks for guests or Abbey servants. To the south-east of the vicarage, a large stone building, aligned east-west, was terraced into a series of make-up layers in the late 13th/early 14th century. The building is too far south to be the frater but may have been part of the Abbess' Lodging (MWA206) or a Guest Hall, demolished during the Dissolution.
22 Report on Geophysical survey referred to in
19, consisting of both magnetic and resistance survey carried out to the SE of the church; a number of features of probable archaeological origin were identified, including structural remains to the northwest of the survey area.
23 During community excavations at the Abbey in 2012 further information on the layout of the site was revealed. Postholes located to the south of the probable cemetery (MWA30005) may have formed the western end of a timber building. The cemetery itself was later covered by a medieval stone building the eastern side of which was defined by a wall, with the southern side having been robbed out. The original plan of the building was visible via a surviving floor surface and a possible robber trench for the western wall, as such it is thought that this was a L shaped building with a fireplace. The stone wall of the southern range survived to 0.6m above the medieval floor and had been robbed towards its eastern end. The room was thought to be 6m wide and remodelled a number of times, largely due to the number of floor surfaces, some of which were decorated. A large cut feature beneath later wall foundations contained a section of preserved wood that appears to have been part of a structure below the later Abbey. A large stone lined drain between two stone walls is thought to be the main Abbey culvert. A similar stone capped drain was also present and is thought to be an exterior drain set in an open area. Internal walls and surfaces suggested that the more complex arrangement of the southern cloister continued into this part of the range.

Source No: 1
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Victoria County History, vol 2, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Page W (ed)
Date: 1908
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 2
Source No: 3
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Author/originator: Mitchell HC
Date: 1939
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: St Editha's Abbey
Source No: 10
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Polesworth Abbey (2nd Edition)
Author/originator: George H E
Date: 1971
Page Number:
Source No: 2
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Victoria County History, vol 4, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Salzman L F (ed)
Date: 1947
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 4
Source No: 4
Source Type: Correspondence
Title: Relating to Polesworth Abbey
Author/originator: various
Date: 1960
Page Number:
Source No: 9
Source Type: Descriptive Text
Title: Warwickshire Monuments Evaluation and Presentation Project
Author/originator: Baker H
Date: 1987
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: Field Survey Form
Source No: 15
Source Type: Excavation archive
Title: Polesworth Abbey
Author/originator: J. Morris
Date: 1956
Page Number:
Source No: 7
Source Type: Excavation Report
Title: TBAS vol 89
Author/originator: Mytum H
Date: 1978-9
Page Number: 79-90
Volume/Sheet: 89
Source No: 13
Source Type: Excavation Report
Title: Polesworth Abbey Cloister: Trial trenching & recording of masonry repairs
Author/originator: Palmer N and Jamieson E
Date: 2001
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: Report No 0128
Source No: 21
Source Type: Evaluation Report
Title: Archaeological Evaluation at Polesworth Vicarage, Polesworth Abbey
Author/originator: Gethin B & Palmer N
Date: 2007
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 0746
Source No: 11
Source Type: Evaluation Report
Title: Polesworth Abbey Cloister: a survey of the standing masonry
Author/originator: Palmer N J
Date: 1996
Page Number:
Source No: 22
Source Type: Geophysical Survey Report
Title: Geophysical Survey Report: Polesworth Abbey
Author/originator: Smalley R
Date: 2207
Page Number:
Source No: 14
Source Type: Internet Data
Title: Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs to 1516 (Warwickshire)
Author/originator: Institute of Historical Research (CMH)
Date: 2005
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: Warwickshire
Source No: 16
Source Type: Map
Title: Polesworth
Page Number:
Source No: 18
Source Type: Observation Report
Title: Archaeological Recording at Polesworth Abbey, Warwickshire 2002-2006
Author/originator: N Palmer and C Coutts
Date: 2006
Page Number:
Source No: 12
Source Type: Observation Report
Title: Report on obs in the garden of Byways, Polesworth
Author/originator: Brookes, C J
Page Number:
Source No: 8
Source Type: Plan
Title: TBAS vol 89
Author/originator: Mytum H
Date: 1978-9
Page Number: Fig 2
Volume/Sheet: 89
Source No: 23
Source Type: Serial
Title: West Midlands Archaeology Vol 55
Author/originator: CBA West Midlands
Date: 2013
Page Number:
Source No: 19
Source Type: Serial
Title: WMA (West Midlands Archaeology) vol 50
Author/originator: CBA West Midlands
Date: 2007
Page Number:
Source No: 17
Source Type: Scheduling record
Title: Polesworth Abbey (Additional Area)
Date: 1977
Page Number:
Source No: 5
Source Type: Scheduling record
Title: AM7 for Polesworth Abbey
Author/originator: DoE
Page Number:
Source No: 6
Source Type: Scheduling record
Title: Polesworth Abbey
Author/originator: DOE
Date: 1986
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 5-8
Source No: 20
Source Type: Unpublished document
Title: Warwickshire Extensive Urban Survey Polesworth Assessment
Author/originator: B Morton
Date: 2011
Page Number:
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Word or Phrase
none Scheduled Monument Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs) are those archaeological sites which are legally recognised as being of national importance. They can range in date from prehistoric times to the Cold War period. They can take many different forms, including disused buildings or sites surviving as earthworks or cropmarks.

SAMs are protected by law from unlicensed disturbance and metal detecting. Written consent from the Secretary of State must be obtained before any sort of work can begin, including archaeological work such as geophysical survey or archaeological excavation. There are nearly 200 SAMs in Warwickshire.
source TBAS Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society is a journal produced by the society annually. It contains articles about archaeological field work that has taken place in Birmingham and Warwickshire in previous years. Copies of the journal are kept by the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. back
source WMA West Midlands Archaeology. This publication contains a short description for each of the sites where archaeological work has taken place in the previous year. It covers Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire. Some of these descriptions include photographs, plans and drawings of the sites and/or the finds that have been discovered. The publication is produced by the Council For British Archaeology (CBA) West Midlands and is published annually. Copies are held at the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. back
technique Geophysical Survey The measuring and recording of electrical resistivity or magnetism in order to determine the existence and outline of buried features such as walls and ditches. Geophysical techniques include resistivity survey, magnetometer survey and ground penetrating radar. View Image back
technique excavation Archaeologists excavate sites so that they can find information and recover archaeological materials before they are destroyed by erosion, construction or changes in land-use.

Depending on how complicated and widespread the archaeological deposits are, excavation can be done by hand or with heavy machinery. Archaeologists may excavate a site in a number of ways; either by open area excavation, by digging a test pit or a trial trench.
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period Medieval 1066 AD to 1539 AD (the 11th century AD to the 16th century AD)

The medieval period comes after the Saxon period and before the post medieval period.

The Medieval period begins in 1066 AD.
This was the year that the Normans, led by William the Conqueror (1066 – 1087), invaded England and defeated Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings in East Sussex.
The Medieval period includes the first half of the Tudor period (1485 – 1603 AD), when the Tudor family reigned in England and eventually in Scotland too.

The end of the Medieval period is marked by Henry VIII’s (1509 – 1547) order for the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the years running up to 1539 AD. The whole of this period is sometimes called the Middle Ages.
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period Post Medieval About 1540 AD to 1750 AD (the 16th century AD to the 18th century AD)

The Post Medieval period comes after the medieval period and before the Imperial period.

This period covers the second half of the reign of the Tudors (1485 – 1603), the reign of the Stuarts (1603 – 1702) and the beginning of the reign of the Hannoverians (1714 – 1836).
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monument LAYER * An archaeological unit of soil in a horizontal plane which may seal features or be cut through by other features. back
monument HOUSE * A building for human habitation, especially a dwelling place. Use more specific type where known. back
monument PRECINCT * The ground immediately surrounding a place, particularly a religious building. back
monument SITE * Unclassifiable site with minimal information. Specify site type wherever possible. back
monument SETTLEMENT * A small concentration of dwellings. back
monument COFFIN * A chest made of stone, wood or lead, used to enclose a dead body. back
monument VICARAGE * The residence of a vicar, parson or rector. back
monument BUILDING * A structure with a roof to provide shelter from the weather for occupants or contents. Use specific type where known. back
monument LODGINGS * Accommodation in hired rooms or a lodging house. back
monument CULVERT * A drainage structure that extends across and beneath roadways, canals or embankments. back
monument ROBBER TRENCH * Use broader site type where known back
monument STONE * Use only where stone is natural or where there is no indication of function. back
monument MANOR HOUSE * The principal house of a manor or village. back
monument FLOOR * A layer of stone, brick or boards, etc, on which people tread. Use broader site type where known. back
monument NUNNERY * Houses specifically of nuns/canonesses or religious women. back
monument BENEDICTINE NUNNERY * An abbey or priory for nuns ofthe Benedictine order. back
monument FEATURE * Areas of indeterminate function. back
monument MARKET * An open space or covered building in which cattle, goods, etc, are displayed for sale. back
monument GRAVE * A place of burial. Use more specific type where known. back
monument VAULT * An underground room or building with an arched roof, often used as a burial chamber. Use wider site type where known. back
monument DRAIN * An artificial channel for draining water or carrying it off. back
monument CHURCH * A building used for public Christian worship. Use more specific type where known. back
monument FAIR * A site where a periodical gathering of buyers, sellers and entertainers, meet at a time ordained by charter or statute or by ancient custom. back
monument ABBEY * A religious house governed by an abbot or abbess. Use with narrow terms of DOUBLE HOUSE, MONASTERY or NUNNERY. back
monument ROAD * A way between different places, used by horses, travellers on foot and vehicles. back
monument CLOISTER * A covered walk, walled on one side and usually arcaded on the other, surrounding or partly surrounding an open area in a monastery or similar complex of Christian buildings. back
monument GATEHOUSE * A gateway with one or more chambers over the entrance arch; the flanking towers housing stairs and additional rooms. Use with wider site type where known. back
monument WELL * A shaft or pit dug in the ground over a supply of spring-water. back
monument FIELD * An area of land, often enclosed, used for cultivation or the grazing of livestock. back
monument MUSEUM * A building, group of buildings or space within a building, where objects of value such as works of art, antiquities, scientific specimens, or other artefacts are housed and displayed. back
monument BRIDGE * A structure of wood, stone, iron, brick or concrete, etc, with one or more intervals under it to span a river or other space. Use specific type where known. back
monument CEMETERY * An area of ground, set apart for the burial of the dead. back
monument WOOD * A tract of land with trees, sometimes acting as a boundary or barrier, usually smaller and less wild than a forest. back
monument BURIAL * An interment of human or animal remains. Use specific type where known. If component use with wider site type. Use FUNERARY SITE for optimum retrieval in searches. back
monument GARDEN * An enclosed piece of ground devoted to the cultivation of flowers, fruit or vegetables and/or recreational purposes. Use more specific type where known. back
monument STRUCTURE * A construction of unknown function, either extant or implied by archaeological evidence. If known, use more specific type. back
monument UNDERCROFT * A vault or crypt under a church or chapel. Use wider site type where known. back
monument MARKET PLACE * An area, often consisting of widened streets or a town square, where booths and stalls may be erected for public sales. back
monument GATE * A movable stucture which enables or prevents entrance to be gained. Usually situated in a wall or similar barrier and supported by gate posts. back
monument WALL * An enclosing structure composed of bricks, stones or similar materials, laid in courses. Use specific type where known. back
monument STATUE * A representation in the round of a living being, allegorical personage, eminent person or animal, etc, sculptured, moulded or cast in marble, metal, plaster, etc. back
monument WORKS * Usually a complex of buildings for the processing of raw materials. Use specific type where known. back
monument FORD * A shallow place in a river or other stretch of water, where people, animals and vehicles may cross. back

* Copyright of English Heritage (1999)

English Heritage National Monuments Record