Priors Hall & Barn

Priors Hall & Barn

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Scheduled Monument

Priors Hall, at one time called Stone Hall because its walls are said to be of 13th century stone, but there is no visible detail of that date.
Priors Hall, at one time called Stone Hal
l because its walls are said to be of 13th century stone, 
but there is no visible detail of that date. The manor was owned by the Prior of St.Valery in Picardy
until the late 14th century. Fragmentary remains of a homestead moat surround the house. Only 

the north arm is waterfilled and measures 38m by 10m wide. The east arm is 50m long and is dry
and partly destroyed by tipping at its south-east angle. Elsewhere the moat has been destroyed. A
 barn and outbuilding probably belong to the 15th century but the house is later. <1>-<11> <15> The barn
 is a well-preserved typical late 14th century Essex-type barn. The original timbers survive largely intact.
<12> Copy of Tithe map in SMR. <13> <14> A watching brief on a trench south of the farm for drainage
produced a single fragment of medieval tile. In the barn a narrow trench across the floor revealed a
possible pit that produced some early medieval pottery ; an illustration of the pottery was attached.<16> 

The internal structure of the house was examined at the east gable end to establish the dates of a base of a
doorway in the centre of the gable partially obscured by a stair, and a small round headed window near
the apex of the gable, visible from within the attic space. Render stripped from the NE corner of the hall
revealed long and short quoins of ?Barnack stone, which were not square. Tooling marks consisted of shallow
grooves along the long faces of the stones. The wall fabric was flint rubble set in a sandy mortar.
The doorway was exposed by limited render removal and extensive lathe and plaster stripping above the stairs.
The three stone jambs were laid in Escomb fashion standing on a stone block plinth. The semi-circular head
of the doorway consisted of c. nine Barnack voussoirs - all apparently of different size and shape. The building
was originally a two-celled structure, with the walls of the eastern cell stepped in from the western
one walls width. The eastern cell was possibly deliberately tapered but equally there may have been an error
 in laying out the plan, or earlier structures were being avoided. All four walls of the western cell remain in the
present building though doorways have been cut through. The conclusion that this building was a church is
highly likely although there are no surviving secular buildings of pre-Conquest date. In this case the doorway
in the east gable would have been a very small chancel arch. However, it raises questions about the relationship
with the existing parish church. It may have been a private chapel that did not continue after change of
 ownership post-Conquest. <17><18> Site Management: =Barn has been thoroughly restored by the DOE
and is open to the public. <12> Dating of extant timbers give date of material felled as AD1417-1442. <19>

Site Assessment = Not all moat seems to be scheduled, merely that part near the barn.. Tree ring analysis
undertaken (by Sheffield Dendrochronology Laboratory) of extant timber suggests they were felled between 1417-1442
and no reused timbers were positively identified <19> Site includes a barn, a farmhouse and a building.
The building is aligned east-west and is ca.65m south of the great barn. The central 5 bays seem to be the
original structure. It has jowled storey posts and a crown-post type roof. There is a one-bay eastern extension,
and a two-bay western extension. Both extensions have side purlin type roofs. The flooring arrangements are
complex. None of the timbers in the entire structure appear to be replaced or re-used. A tree ring analysis was
commissioned to try to elucidate the dates and sequence of modifications. The roof, wall and floor of the original
building produced a date of felling as AD 1490/91. The eastern extension gave a date of AD1563/4, the western
extension was based on only one timber with a date between AD 1578 and AD 1613. <20> Test pitting around
the outside of the house revealed medieval features containing evidence of domestic cooking activity dating to
the 12th and early 13th century; perhaps originating from a nearby kitchen structure.<21> Monitoring of extensive
building works within the yard and garden as well as within the house has revealed part of the flint foundations
of the late Saxon building as was a post-hole of possible 14th-15th century date. In the yard a 13th century pit and
probably linear medieval feature was excavated. In the garden later medieval pottery sherds and tile were
recovered from mixed soil layers.<22>

BARN (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
HOUSE (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
MOAT (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
BUILDING (Dated 410AD to 1065AD)
BUILDING (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
PIT (Dated 1200AD to 1300AD)
POST HOLE (Dated 1300AD to 1500AD)

Scheduled Monument