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Alnwick Abbey

In the civil parish of Denwick.
In the historic county of Northumberland.
Modern Authority of Northumberland.
1974 county of Northumberland.
Medieval County of Northumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NU178140
Latitude 55.42025° Longitude -1.71937°

Alnwick Abbey has been described as a certain Fortified Ecclesiastical site.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Remains of a monastery of Premonstratensian canons founded in 1147, dissolved 1539. The gatehouse is the only standing structure, the rest of the complex is marked out following excavations carried out in 1889. A precinct wall delimited the North side of the site, with the extant gatehouse near the middle. The River Aln demarked the South side. The church was placed roughly centrally, with the claustral range to the South. The church was crucifrorm, ailsed, and had 2 chapels to the east of both the North and South transepts. To the South lay the slype, chapter house, warming house and dormitory. The West range of the cloister was not excavated. The infirmary buildings lay in a separate block to the South East of the church. There was an outer court to the West, which included the cellarers range, guest house, the kitchen, bakehouse, and ovens. Dependencies included the hospital at Alnwick, and Guyzance priory cell. (PastScape)

Gatehouse of Premonstratensian Abbey. Late C14, with some minor late C18/C19 alterations and restoration. Ashlar; Lakeland slate roof. Rectangular 2- storey block with projecting taller angle turrets. Perpendicular style.
North (formerly external) front: Gothick panelled double doors under moulded segmental arch, with small recesses to each side and 2 niches above, the lower with worn statue. Machicolated parapet with shields and moulded crenellations. Flanking turrets, corbelled out at different levels, have small loops, some with trefoiled ogee heads. Single storey block on right, probably post-medieval, with 2 small loops.
South front shows similar arch with 2-light transomed window above. Flat- pointed doorways in turrets, that to right blocked; left turret has 2-light transomed window with cusped heads to lights and metal lattice casements.
East side has deeply-recessed centre with blocked 4-centred arch under canopied niche, with transomed and traceried 2-light windows above and in turret to right; carved hoodmould stops and heraldry on turrets and machicolated parapet. West side shows small loops and corbelled-out garderobe below parapet.
Interior: Segmental barrel vault over gate passage. Straight mural stair to 1st floor in west wall, and full-height newel stair in south-east turret. 4-centred arched doorways to stairs and turret chambers.
Historical Notes. Abbey founded in 1147 by Eustace Fitz-John; famous for its relics, the foot of Simon de Montfort and the chalice of St. Thomas of Canterbury. The main buildings lay south of the gatehouse; after excavation in 1884 the plan was marked out but is now only traceable with difficulty. (Listed Building Report)

The C14 gatehouse is certainly built in a martial style and has De Vescy family armorials but, as with most monastic precincts, the defensibility of the large precinct is highly questionable.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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