Ipswich UAD child record record IPS 1332 - Carmelite Friary Cloister

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Suggested location of Cloister


Grid reference Centred TM 1629 4447 (19m by 15m)
Map sheet TM14SE


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

The cloister lay on the south side of the church bounded by the west, south and east ranges. It was c.25.8m east -west, by c.22.3m north- south, with covered walkways, c.2.55m wide, on all sides.
The south and west sides of the cloister walk and the majority of the garth had been completely destroyed by the cutting of the basement of the Cowells printing works, fronting Falcon Street. In addition, the east side was inaccessible being located below the demolition contractor’s access road. However, one trench across the area was negotiated which located the east wall (5020) of the walkway, 70cm thick, and the footing trench (5021) for the associated inner wall plus the base of a wall and wall footing (5025) running from east to west, presumed to be the internal wall of the south cloister walk.
The south wall of the nave was buttressed and, to avoid them projecting into the north cloister walkway, a separate north wall (3537) for this walkway was constructed up against the outer face of the nave buttresses with buttresses of its own on the north side, overlapping with those of the nave, creating a cavity between the two walls. The wall (3537) was butted up against the west range wall (3533) confirming that the cloister was built after the surrounding ranges had been completed.
All the external walls of the cloister were plastered on their inside faces.
Only two thirds of the north walkway and the start of the west walkway were exposed by area excavation. Here, the inner wall (3538) was 30cm wide and plastered on its inside face. It was composed mainly of flint and mortar and survived to a height of c.10cm above its footings (4810). Near the west end of the north walkway, a brick surface (3540) crossed the line of the wall and into the garth, indicating a doorway.
Only one floor surface was recorded within the cloister walk and some tiles survived robbing at the intersection of the north and west walkways. There were small tiles close to the inner and outer walls, whereas towards the centre of the walks, where the wear on the floor was heaviest, these had been replaced with larger tiles..
Although no tiles survived, the trench across the east cloister walk revealed a continuation of this floor, as represented by a layer of clay (5022) overlain by a thin surface of orange sand (5023) with the mortar bedding for the tiles (5024) lying above.
The main entrance from the cloister into the nave must have been in the unexcavated area at the north end of the east cloister walk.
In the extreme north-west corner of the walk, abutting the plaster face of the north and west walls, was a rectangular area of mortared rubble, 1.1m long by 32cm. An area of tiles (5108) respected the edge of this feature, which must either be a seat.
The cloister garth had been destroyed by the basement of Cowells's printing works but the removal of the cellar floor, prior to development, revealed the base of a circular septaria and mortar lined well below, roughly at the centre of the cloister garth, but no certain evidence of friary date was retrieved.
Four graves were located by the limited excavation within the north cloister walk, probably represent only a small proportion of those present, but time did not allow further investigation. Of these, two (4811, 4812) lay at the east end, partially underlying the contractor’s road and were not excavated down to the level of the body. A third grave (4813) at the east end was cut by a large post-dissolution pit (4777) and no trace of a body survived. The fourth grave (5107) lay towards the west end and was the only one of the four from which a skeleton was recovered.
Although the majority of grave 4813 had been cut away by a later pit, the main disturbance was caused prior to this by the robbing of the grave. The base of the grave was lined with bricks, which had presumably formed a chamber, although these had been robbed to their bottom course. The brick lining of the floor had been covered with tiles which had been robbed leaving only impressions in the mortar bedding below. Robbing had considerably enlarged the grave, and the base was littered with mortar debris. The absence of a body is therefore not surprising and is consistent with those lined graves found within the church, none of which contained any traces of a burial. Whether the body was removed at the same time that the fabric was removed is uncertain but no human remains were found within the backfilling, (S1).

Sources/Archives (1)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Wade, K. 2014. Ipswich Archive Site Summaries: St. Stephen's Lane..

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Jan 3 2019 9:26PM

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