Information for record number MWA6007:
Kenilworth Abbey Gatehouse, Kenilworth

Summary Kenilworth Abbey Gatehouse was built during the Medieval period and is constructed of red sandstone. It consists of two compartments and the gateway runs between them with a single large arch. The remains still stand and are situated in Abbey Fields.
What Is It?  
Type: Gatehouse
Period: Medieval (1066 AD - 1539 AD)
Where Is It?  
Parish: Kenilworth
District: Warwick, Warwickshire
Grid Reference: SP 28 72
(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
Picture(s) attached


Source Number  

11 The monument includes the known surviving standing, earthwork and buried remains of Kenilworth Abbey and its wider monastic precinct. Kenilworth Abbey is an Augustinian monastery located on gently rising ground to the north of Finham Brook, immediately east of Kenilworth Castle, which is the subject of a separate scheduling. The High Street of Kenilworth old town is located immediately north of the precinct boundary. The parish Church of St Nicholas, which remains open for worship, is not included in the scheduling. The priory of Austin canons in Kenilworth, which had become an Abbey by 1447, was founded by Godfrey de Clinton, chamberlain and treasurer to Henry I, in 1122 around the same time as he erected his Castle in Kenilworth. The monastery was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and its foundation charter included all of Godfrey's land and woods at Kenilworth, save those reserved for the Castle and its surrounding park, together with manors and churches in Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire. He later added a tithe on all produce brought to the Castle, as well as lands and churches in Buckinghamshire and Staffordshire. The monastery was wealthy from its earliest days; Henry I was a major patron, giving land in Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. Patronage passed to the crown in the 13th century, and the fortunes of the Abbey remained closely linked to those of the Castle. Over time the Abbey accepted several royal retainers as corrodians or pensioners. By the time of the Valor Ecclesiasticus in 1535 the Abbey was clearly a wealthy house with an annual value of 538 pounds, 19 shillings and 4 pence. The monastery was dissolved in 1538 when the abbot, the prior and 14 canons surrendered the monastery with all its possessions in the counties of Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Northamptonshire, Buckingham, Somerset and Oxfordshire. The Abbey passed into secular ownership, and its masonry was quarried, in part to repair the Castle. The remains fell into rapid decay. A depiction of 1701 shows the church and cloisters to be entirely ruinous. Extant masonry remains of several buildings survive in situ within the monastic precinct. These include a gatehouse, a barn and remnants of the church and cloister range. The gatehouse, a Listed Building Grade I, is located to the west of the monastic church. It is constructed of red sandstone, with two vaulted chambers to the west of the cart arch on the ground floor. The gatehouse is believed to be of 14th century date, and its proximity to the west end of the church suggests it was the gate to the inner court. Another domestic building lying approximately 40m south of the gatehouse, known as the `Abbey barn', is a Listed Building Grade I; its original purpose is unknown. Believed to date to the 14th century, it is a rectangular building of red sandstone, originally of two stories and measuring approximately 12m by 8m, with external evidence for lean-to and extension buildings. To the east of the barn and gatehouse buildings are the remains of the Abbey church and cloisters (Listed Grade I). Part of the west wall of the Abbey church stands to a height of between 3m and 4m, and part of the south wall of the chapter house survives to a similar height. The footings of the western parlour and the south wall of the nave, as well as parts of the transepts and chancel of the church, are also visible. Excavations during 1890 and 1922 allowed the plan of the conventual to be recovered, and demonstrated that the building included at least two phases of stone church building, an early Norman church and a later extended church, both with square ended chancels. The plan of the Abbey followed closely the standard plan of a reformed Abbey, influenced by the Cistercian order. The church lay to the north of the cloister garth with the chapter house and dormitories on the east, the refectory to the south and a cellarer's range and parlour forming the west range. To the east of the cloister range was a separate infirmary building, and other ancillary buildings. Slight earthworks indicate that much of the plan survives as buried remains. Further survivals within the Abbey Fields are earthwork and buried remains of several features of the Abbey precinct, including a piped water supply, the Abbey water mill, fishponds, windmill, tracks and roads as well as medieval ridge and furrow cultivation remains, and the remains of the precinct boundary wall. Finham Brook crosses the site and lies downslope of the Abbey church and cloisters. A number of ponds are marked along its course on early Ordnance Survey maps; these include `Fermary (infirmary) Garden Pool', `Bakehouse Pool', and `Abbey Pool'. These ponds are believed to represent a string of at least three monastic fishponds, constructed in the flood plain of the brook orientated east to west. Although two of the ponds have become infilled, they will retain evidence of their construction. Immediately to the south of the brook, in line with the Abbey gatehouse, are a number of earthwork features, including several building platforms and the remains of a curving ditch or leat. Partial Excavation in 1989, in advance of pipe laying, confirmed the survival of substantial below ground remains, including the foundations of at least three sandstone buildings and a number of external floor surfaces, hearths and drainage features. These have been dated to between the 12th and 15th centuries. The Excavations, however, were not able to confirm the nature and use of the buildings beyond identifying that they were domestic or agricultural. Geophysical survey in the late 1990s confirmed survival of further buried remains including walls and ditches in an area traditionally associated with the priory mill. Although the Excavations were unable to confirm this, documents record the existence of a water mill from the 12th century until the 18th century, and the early edition Ordnance Survey maps record this as the site of the mill. The stone abutments of a former packhorse bridge survive in the southern bank of the brook, immediately adjacent to the site. The bridge is believed to have provided access to the mill, which remained in use after the dissolution of the monastery. A number of footpaths and hollow ways converge on the site of the mill and the packhorse bridge. Approximately 250m west of the mill and immediately to the south of the brook is an earthen mound, measuring approximately 2m high and 20m in diameter, illustrated on early Ordnance Survey maps, and believed to be the remains of a windmill mound. To the south west of the brook the land rises steeply. Here the base of the escarpment is defined by a linear earthwork, comprising a double ditch and bank, believed to be a causewayed road leading towards the 12th century settlement located to the south of the monastery. A series of slight earthworks, which may represent the site of a number of domestic and agricultural buildings located in the outer court of the Abbey, can be seen on the scarp of the slope. medieval ridge and furrow cultivation remains are visible on aerial photographs of the southernmost parts of the Abbey Fields, providing evidence for the agricultural landscape immediately surrounding the Abbey precinct. To the north of the modern lake in the north western part of the Abbey Fields, the land rises away from the flood plain. Subsidence in 2000 revealed the remains of a medieval water conduit which is referred to in medieval documents as bringing drinking water from a spring near the king's highway to the Abbey. Excavations and a watching brief carried out in 1973 during redevelopment of properties known as Little Virginia, on the south side of Castle Hill, demonstrated the survival of the precinct wall in the north eastern angle of the precinct. A red sandstone wall, constructed of large faced ashlar blocks and surviving to a height of 2m-3m, was discovered functioning as the southern property wall of a number of lean to timber-framed cottages. This wall has been identified to be the remains of the precinct boundary wall. Cartographic evidence from the 1920s demonstrates that the wall formally survived as an extant feature extending some further 100m to the north west. Excavations to the west of the wall in 1973 confirmed it also survives as a buried feature extending to the east for a distance of over 25m. The Excavations demonstrated that in this section there were two phases of precinct wall running parallel with a later 16th wall which lay outside the earlier wall. These are believed to represent both the earliest and latest phase of the precinct boundary.
1 A 14th century gatehouse near the NW corner of Kenilworth Abbey precincts facing N. It is of local red sandstone and consists of two vaulted compartments - the inner now in ruins - opening to the N by a four-centred arch. Between the two compartments is the gateway, with a large segmental arch, flanked on the W by a small doorway, with pointed arch, for foot passengers. In the E wall of each compartment is an arched recess with a stone seat and in the W wall of the inner is a doorway into the porter's lodge. This lodge is divided into two halves. There are traces of a wall running S from the W side of the lodge and another running E.
7 1977: An Excavation was conducted when the building was restored. The Excavation revealed several stone walls joining the gatehouse.
8 The site is within the Scheduled area of the SAM of Kenilworth Abbey (Monument Number 35115).
9 Observation of ground reduction around the former doorway on the north side of the gatehouse at Kenilworth Abbey, which is to opened up and a new door inserted. Residual fragments of glazed medieval floor tile were recovered from the overlying soil.
10 An archaeological evaluation on the west side of the gatehouse revealed two large stone features which were interpreted as probably representing buttresses, and part of the plinth of the extant gatehouse. No medieval pottery was found during the Excavation with medieval finds restricted to fragments of worked stone, ceramic roof-tile and ceramic floor tile.

Source No: 4
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: AM7
Author/originator: DoE
Page Number:
Source No: 1
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Victoria County History, vol 6, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Salzman L F (ed)
Date: 1951
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: VI
Source No: 5
Source Type: Descriptive Text
Title: LBL
Author/originator: DoE
Page Number:
Source No: 9
Source Type: Excavation Report
Title: Archaeological excavation of a test-pit at Kenilworth Abbey Gatehouse, Kenilworth Abbey, Warwickshire
Author/originator: C Coutts and C Rann
Page Number:
Source No: 10
Source Type: Evaluation Report
Title: Kenilworth Abbey Gatehouse, Kenilworth, Warwickshire: Archaeological Evaluation
Author/originator: Bryn Gethin
Date: 2014
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 14107
Source No: 11
Source Type: Statuatory List
Title: National Heritage List for England
Author/originator: Historic England
Page Number:
Source No:
Source Type: Monograph
Title: Kenilworth: The Story of the Abbey
Author/originator: Sunley, H and Stevens, N
Date: 1995
Page Number:
Source No: 3
Source Type: Photograph
Title: Kenilworth Abbey
Author/originator: Carey-Hill E
Date: 1927
Page Number: Plate 1
Volume/Sheet: 52:1
Source No: 2
Source Type: Serial
Title: TBAS vol 52:1
Author/originator: Carey-Hill E
Date: 1927
Page Number: 184-227
Volume/Sheet: 52:1
Source No: 12
Source Type: Serial
Title: West Midlands Archaeology Vol 57
Author/originator: CBA West Midlands
Date: 2015
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: No 57
Source No: 6
Source Type: Scheduling record
Title: SAM list
Author/originator: DoE
Date: 1985
Page Number:
Source No: 8
Source Type: Scheduling record
Title: Kenilworth Abbey
Author/originator: English Heritage
Date: 2003
Page Number:
Source No: 7
Source Type: Unpublished document
Title: Excavation at Kenilworth Abbey Gatehouse
Author/originator: RGL
Date: 1977
Page Number:
The gatehouse to Kenilworth Abbey
Copyright: Warwickshire County Council
Date: 2003
Click here for larger image  
The gateway to Kenilworth Abbey
Copyright: Warwickshire County Council
Date: 1860s
Click here for larger image  
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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.
designation Listed Building Buildings and structures, such as bridges, that are of architectural or historical importance are placed on a statutory list. These buildings are protected by planning and conservation acts that ensure that their special features of interest are considered before any alterations are made to them.

Depending on how important the buildings are they are classed as Grade I, Grade II* or Grade II. Grade I buildings are those of exceptional interest. Grade II* are particularly important buildings of more than special interest. Those listed as Grade II are those buildings that are regarded of special interest.
source LBL Listed Building List. Buildings and structures, such as bridges, that are of architectural or historical importance are placed on a list. Buildings placed on the list are protected through various planning and conservation acts which ensure that their special features of interest are considered before any alterations are made to them. The Listed Buildings List is compiled and maintained by English Heritage. It includes details of where the building is, when it was built, a description of its appearance, and any other special features. back
source SAM List Scheduled Ancient Monument List. A list or schedule of archaelogical and historic monuments that are considered to be of national importance. The list contains a detailed description of each Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) and a map showing their location and extent. By being placed on the schedule, SAMs are protected by law from any unauthorised distrubance. The list has been compiled and is maintained by English Heritage. It is updated periodically. back
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
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 Earthwork Earthworks can take the form of banks, ditches and mounds. They are usually created for a specific purpose. A bank, for example, might be the remains of a boundary between two or more fields. Some earthworks may be all that remains of a collapsed building, for example, the grassed-over remains of building foundations.

In the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky than during the other seasons, earthworks have larger shadows. From the air, archaeologists are able to see the patterns of the earthworks more easily. Earthworks can sometimes be confusing when viewed at ground level, but from above, the general plan is much clearer.

Archaeologists often carry out an aerial survey or an earthwork survey to help them understand the lumps and bumps they can see on the ground.
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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technique Aerial Photograph Aerial photographs are taken during an aerial survey, which involves looking at the ground from above. It is usually easier to see cropmarks and earthworks when they are viewed from above. Aerial photographs help archaeologists to record what they see and to identify new sites. There are two kinds of aerial photographs; oblique and vertical. back
period Modern The Modern Period, about 1915 AD to the present (the 20th and 21st centuries AD)

In recent years archaeologists have realised the importance of recording modern sites. They do this so that in the future people will be able to look at the remains to help them understand the events to which they are related.
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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 modern About 1915 AD to the present (the 20th and 21st centuries AD)

In recent years archaeologists have realised the importance of recording modern sites. They do this so that in the future people will be able to look at the remains to help them understand the events to which they are related.
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monument POOL * A small body of water, either natural or artificial. 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 CHAPTER HOUSE * The building attached to a cathedral or collegiate church where the dean, prebendaries or monks and canons met for the transaction of business. back
monument FISHPOND * A pond used for the rearing, breeding, sorting and storing of fish. back
monument SETTLEMENT * A small concentration of dwellings. back
monument WINDMILL * A tower-like structure of wood or brick with a wooden cap and sails which are driven around by the wind producing power to work the internal machinery. Use with product type where known. back
monument LODGE * A small building, often inhabited by a gatekeeper, gamekeeper or similar. Use specific type where known. 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 REFECTORY * A communal dining room, especially in schools, colleges and monasteries. back
monument LAKE * A large body of water surrounded by land. back
monument RIDGE AND FURROW * A series of long, raised ridges separated by ditches used to prepare the ground for arable cultivation. This was a technique, characteristic of the medieval period. back
monument STONE * Use only where stone is natural or where there is no indication of function. back
monument PACKHORSE BRIDGE * A high-humped, narrow, cobbled bridge used by trains of packhorses, often located in upland areas where the bulk of goods were carried by horses. back
monument PARK * An enclosed piece of land, generally large in area, used for hunting, the cultivation of trees, for grazing sheep and cattle or visual enjoyment. Use more specific type where known. back
monument ARCH * A structure over an opening usually formed of wedge-shaped blocks of brick or stone held together by mutual pressure and supported at the sides; they can also be formed from moulded concrete/ cast metal. A component; use for free-standing structure only. back
monument FLOOR * A layer of stone, brick or boards, etc, on which people tread. Use broader site type where known. back
monument BOUNDARY * The limit to an area as defined on a map or by a marker of some form, eg. BOUNDARY WALL. Use specific type where known. back
monument MILL * A factory used for processing raw materials. Use more specific mill type where known. See also TEXTILE MILL, for more narrow terms. back
monument FEATURE * Areas of indeterminate function. back
monument POND * A body of still water often artificially formed for a specific purpose. Use specifc type where known. back
monument PARISH CHURCH * The foremost church within a parish. back
monument PRIORY * A monastery governed by a prior or prioress. Use with narrow terms of DOUBLE HOUSE, FRIARY, MONASTERY or NUNNERY. back
monument CHURCH * A building used for public Christian worship. Use more specific type where known. 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 AGRICULTURAL BUILDING * A building used for an agricultural and/or subsistence purpose. Use more specific type where known. back
monument CASTLE * A fortress and dwelling, usually medieval in origin, and often consisting of a keep, curtain wall and towers etc. back
monument PIT * A hole or cavity in the ground, either natural or the result of excavation. Use more specific type where known. back
monument SEAT * An external structure used to sit on. back
monument HEARTH * The slab or place on which a fire is made. 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 BUILDING PLATFORM * A site where a building once stood as identified by a level area of ground, often compacted or made from man-made materials. Use only where specific function is unknown, otherwise use more specific term. back
monument FIELD * An area of land, often enclosed, used for cultivation or the grazing of livestock. 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 LEAT * Artificial water channel, usually leading to a mill. back
monument CLOISTER GARTH * The open space surrounded by a cloister. back
monument AUGUSTINIAN MONASTERY * An abbey or priory of Augustinian canons. back
monument MANOR * An area of land consisting of the lord's demesne and of lands from whose holders he may exact certain fees, etc. 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 LINEAR EARTHWORK * A substantial bank and ditch forming a major boundary between two adjacent landholdings. Most date from the late Bronze Age and Iron Age. back
monument MONASTIC PRECINCT * The area surrounding a monastic house including conventual buildings, outbuildings, cemetery, fishponds, etc, usually marked out by a bank and/or ditch or precinct wall. back
monument GATEWAY * A substantial structure supporting or surrounding a gate. May be ornate or monumental, and have associated structures such as lodges, tollbooths, guard houses etc. back
monument DITCH * A long and narrow hollow or trench dug in the ground, often used to carry water though it may be dry for much of the year. back
monument SQUARE * An open space or area, usually square in plan, in a town or city, enclosed by residential and/or commercial buildings, frequently containing a garden or laid out with trees. 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 BARN * A building for the storage and processing of grain crops and for housing straw, farm equipment and occasionally livestock and their fodder. Use more specific type where known. back
monument CONDUIT * A pipe or channel for conveying water or other liquids. back
monument WINDMILL MOUND * An artificial mound of earth indicating either the former site of a windmill or built as the base of a post windmill. back
monument BAKEHOUSE * A service building to a country house, farm, etc, used for baking. If commercial premises use BAKERY. back
monument MONASTERY * Houses specifically of monks, canons or religious men but not friars. back
monument CROSS * A free-standing structure, in the form of a cross (+), symbolizing the structure on which Jesus Christ was crucified and sacred to the Christian faith. Use specific type where known. back
monument INFIRMARY * A building used for the care of the sick. Only to be used where part of a complex, eg. a workhouse. In such cases use with appropriate monument type. back
monument SPRING * A point where water issues naturally from the rock or soil onto the ground or into a body of surface water. back
monument POUND * A pen, often circular and stone-walled, for rounding up livestock. 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 BOUNDARY WALL * Any wall enclosing a building or complex of buildings, eg. prisons, dockyards, factories, etc. back
monument FOOTPATH * A path for pedestrians only. back
monument MOUND * A natural or artificial elevation of earth or stones, such as the earth heaped upon a grave. Use more specific type where known. back
monument WALL * An enclosing structure composed of bricks, stones or similar materials, laid in courses. Use specific type where known. back
monument TOWN * An assemblage of public and private buildings, larger than a village and having more complete and independent local government. back
monument DOMESTIC * This is the top term for the class. See DOMESTIC Class List for narrow terms. back
monument EARTHWORK * A bank or mound of earth used as a rampart or fortification. back
monument PRECINCT WALL * A wall enclosing a precinct. back
monument SCARP * A steep bank or slope. In fortifications, the bank or wall immediately in front of and below the rampart. back
monument HOLLOW WAY * A way, path or road through a cutting. back

* Copyright of English Heritage (1999)

English Heritage National Monuments Record