Monument record SBT 002 - Sibton Abbey (Med)

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Sibton Abbey (site) - only Cistercian house in Suffolk, colonised from Warden, Beds. Scheduled Monument. Also 17th century house built from its remains.


Grid reference Centred TM 364 698 (113m by 212m)
Map sheet TM36NE


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

Sibton Abbey (site) - only Cistercian house in Suffolk, colonised from Warden, Beds (also see Wangford Grange in Forest Heath district). Founded in 1150 by William de Chesney (also known as W of Norwich or W son of Robert the Sheriff), hereditary Sheriff of Norfolk & Suffolk (grandson of Walter de Caen, a Domesday under-tenant)(S4). A fairly rich house (250 pounds in 1535). In 1536 the last abbot, William Flatbury & 7 monks sold the Abbey to the Duke of Norfolk (S3).
Remains comprise: (a) S wall of church W of crossing (circa 170 ft) without features except a blocked door and remains of a piscina. (b) Foundations and fragments of W range, including small chamber at N end. The cloister was circa 120 ft with an `ally' to W, 30 ft wide. (c) Much of the S range, the exceptional E-W frater is largely complete to full height and a fine late C12 building. A great blind arch with ornamental capitals at E end. Original high windows on each side, replaced by a later 2- light window. Wall broken for pulpit. Part of a fine C14 lavatory (AD 1363- 4) on cloister side. Remains of 2 bays of dorter undercroft at E with C12 "brick" wall arches above. One wall of servery to W. E range quarried away. Two stone coffins (? from Chapter House) remain (S1).
Property continued in the Howard family until 1610 when it was sold to John Scrivener. Scrivener built a house out of the Abbey remains. This house [shown on Hodskinsons map of 1783] was pulled down circa 1751-1797 by his descendant John Freston Scrivener. D E Davy records that he remembered a good house of modern construction upon the ruins of the old monastery, and that no vestiges of it then remained. He also records that when the house was being pulled down, the walls of one of the rooms were found to be covered with fresco paintings (S5). Also see (S10). For associated park (?) see SBT 018.
`Tiles & C' found 1806 or earlier (R1)(R2). Engraving of 1820 shows ruins standing clear of wood, but otherwise little different from their present state (R2). Circa 1882: Stone coffins found (R2).
Carved capital described as `found during excavation in 1892' (R2). Font brought to Sibton Abbey from Darsham Church (R2).
1981: Whole site is very overgrown. Impossible to penetrate close to walls to check details of architectural features or dimensions. However high windows on S side of frater visible (S1).
1986: For report of visit - see (S1).
Metal detector finds from an area to the north of the Abbey, where trees were flattened in the October 1987 gale (S2):
TM 365 699: Circular lead seal matrix, 8-pointed star in the centre, surrounding inscription - S'IOhIS FILI IOhIS DI'ORINGLOND (the seal of John son of John of Oringlond or Loringford, or John Doringlon), C13-C14 (S7). There are no Oringlonds in the contemporary Sibton Abbey records, however, they do record a John son of John de Irelaunde in 1317 (Sibton Abbey Cartularies nos 761 & 774), who appears as John de Irelond in the 1327 Lay Subsidy return for Sibton, Cookley & Walpole.
TM 366 699: Coppey alloy belt plate in the form of a lion, the head and front legs running into an E-shaped symbol. There are five rivets through it, with small sheet washers at the rear; C12 or early C13. Also three C15 jettons and one ? early C16.
1990: Remains are now overgrown and trees grow in the Cloister and around the buildings - several of these have fallen as result of recent gales.There is also much evidence of rabbit activity in the sandy soil. Only the south wall of the church survives and this is mainly a featureless stretch of flint walling. Attached to its south side is a small projection built of early C17 bricks. This was presumably part of John Scrivener's house and may have been a stair turret. Attached to the west end of the church is the Lay Brothers Range. At the north end of this is a separate room. The walls of this are constructed of crag blocks and mid C12- mid C13 Great Bricks, including some double size Great Bricks. At the south end of the LayBrothers Range there is another surviving fragment, also built of crag and Great Bricks. The south wall of this has the remains of lined plaster and red paint (?C17). On the south side of the Cloister are the substantial remains of the Frater, built of mortared flint with stone dressings, patched with later bricks. Good late C12 windows survive on the N & S sides of the Frater. There is also a C15 part brick window on the N side. The doorway into the kitchen from the Cloister has an original brick arch. On the N wall of the Frater are the remains of a fine stone lavatory, documented to 1363-4. Beneath the arch in the E wall of the Frater, are two blocked doorways, on the outer side of this wall, at first floor level, are several blind brick arches with round heads, probably C12 in date (S6).
Extent of abbey probably originally much larger than scheduled area. For research and local knowledge see Lindsey Lee (S8). Note Med bridge abutment to S (see SBT 001 & 034) and W (see OS card notated map).
1999: Scheduled area revised and enlarged (includes SBT 003, 018 and ?015), see (S1). Needs extending to include SBT 034!
Also BA.

Sources/Archives (16)

  • <M1> (No record type): SAM file:.
  • <S1> Unpublished document: DOE scheduling information.
  • <R1> (No record type): Gentleman's Magazine, 1806, 17.
  • <S2> (No record type): Bradley P & Fulcher D, IMDC, per J Newman, Ipswich 1988.
  • <M2> Unpublished document: Suffolk Archaeological Service. Parish file. Parish file: finds list, letter from British Museum, also seal impression &.
  • <R2> (No record type): Hope W H St J, `Sibton Abbey', PSIA, 8, 1892, (1), 54-60.
  • <M3> (No record type): annotated plan, 1990, letter from BM in Martlesham file..
  • <R3> Index: OS. OS Card. OS, card TM36NE1.
  • <S3> Bibliographic reference: Victoria County History of Suffolk (Vol I 1911; Vol II 1907). VCH, Suffolk, 2, 1907, 89-91.
  • <S4> (No record type): Brown P (ed), Sibton Abbey Cartularies, 4 vols, Suffolk Record Society.
  • <S5> (No record type): Davey D E (1769-1851), Suffolk Collections, BL Add.Mss 19077-19113 (microfilm in SRO, Ipswich).
  • <S6> (No record type): Martin, E.A.. Martin E, 1990.
  • <S7> (No record type): Cherry J (BM), letter to SAU (Newman J), July 1988.
  • <S8> (No record type): Lee, L.. Lee L, Brambles, School Road, Tunstall, March 1998.
  • <S9> Photograph: Air Photographs. NAU, JFZ 4-5, July 1992.
  • <S10> Bibliographic reference: Taigel, A. & Williamson, T.. 1992-1994. Suffolk Park and Garden manuscript reports.

Finds (3)

Protected Status/Designation

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Record last edited

Jul 28 2010 10:20AM

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