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The Abbey

A Grade I Listed Building in Swaffham Bulbeck, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.2473 / 52°14'50"N

Longitude: 0.2819 / 0°16'54"E

OS Eastings: 555876

OS Northings: 263471

OS Grid: TL558634

Mapcode National: GBR M8G.02M

Mapcode Global: VHHJZ.TSW1

Entry Name: The Abbey

Listing Date: 1 December 1951

Last Amended: 15 June 1984

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1165597

English Heritage Legacy ID: 49413

Location: Swaffham Bulbeck, East Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire, CB25

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Swaffham Bulbeck

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Swaffham Bulbeck St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Ely

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Swaffham Bulbeck

Listing Text


14/114 The Abbey
(formerly listed at
1.12.1951 The Priory)


House, built over medieval undercroft, C13 and C18. Stone and
brick with C20 pantile roof. The undercroft C13 has original
walls of coursed clunch, possibly rebuilt or renewed in C18,
with substantial areas of c1300 finely jointed and coursed
knapped flint. The door and window openings are generally of
Barnack limestone. The clasping buttresses are C18 but
incorporate stone from the medieval building. The original
lodging probably consisted of a first floor hall above the
undercroft, which is in five bays and two aisles. The original
door and window openings are more clearly visible from the
interior, but in the North East wall there are sills of two,
two-light windows and chamfered mullions and sills. The doorway
in this wall has jambs of two chamfered orders but the arch has
been rebuilt. In the early C18 the first floor was rebuilt in
narrow yellow brick with red brick dressings. Pantiled roof
with end parapets and a good, contemporary double cornice of
sawtooth ornament. There is an attic storey. The first floor
is framed by pilaster strips and divided from the undercroft by
a band. There is a projecting, pedimented centrepiece of three
recessed hung sashes with a round window to the pediment. The
larger flanking bays each have one similar hung sash. At ground
floor, the doorway is in a rusticated round headed arch flanked
by two blind, round window openings. Inside the undercroft has
quadripartite ribbed vaulting, chamfered, with the ribs
springing from three octagonal columns with moulded capitals.
The responds have similar half-octagonal columns. In plan the
undercroft was divided by a partition wall, probably without
openings, between the second and third bays. The three bays to
the North had three windows on the South West side, each with a
two-centred and chamfered rear arch with a wide splay and
ashlared quoins. On the North East there is an enlarged window
opening and a similar two-centred rear arch to an original
doorway. The columns of the arcade, and the responds, and the
doorway jambs are all of Barnack limestone but the capitals,
which are contemporary are clunch. In the two bays to the South
East, on the North wall there are two, two-centred rear arches.
On the South side a locker with rebate for a door and sites for
shelving. There are two similar lockers in the North West
bays. The inglenook is a C18 insertion. The early C18 part of
the house retains its original plan as well as a symmetrical
baluster from the original staircase. The medieval undercroft
is the only surviving building of a Benedictine nunnery founded
in C12 by Isabel the Bolebec. It was probably a warehouse or
storeroom for the Prioress's lodging which would have occupied
the first floor hall above. In C18 it was acquired by William
Hamond of Haling Park, Surrey who rebuilt the first floor.

R.C.H.M. (North East Cambs.), p100, mon. (2)
W M Palmer: Benedictine Nunnery of Swaffham Bulbeck. C.A.S.
Proc XXI, (1931).
V.C.H. (Cambs.), Vol. II, p226

Listing NGR: TL5587663471

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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