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St Osyth's Priory: West Barn and Baliffs Cottage

A Grade II* Listed Building in St. Osyth, Essex

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Latitude: 51.7998 / 51°47'59"N

Longitude: 1.0741 / 1°4'26"E

OS Eastings: 612057

OS Northings: 215707

OS Grid: TM120157

Mapcode National: GBR TQW.2CN

Mapcode Global: VHLD3.K1P3

Plus Code: 9F33Q3XF+WJ

Entry Name: St Osyth's Priory: West Barn and Baliffs Cottage

Listing Date: 21 February 1950

Last Amended: 20 March 2014

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1166310

English Heritage Legacy ID: 120023

Location: St Osyth's Priory, Tendring, Essex, CO16

County: Essex

District: Tendring

Civil Parish: St. Osyth

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: St Osyth Saints Peter and St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

Tagged with: Architectural structure

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An outbuilding of the C16 and earlier, the northern third of which was converted into the Bailiffs Cottage in the C19.


An outbuilding of the C16 and earlier, incorporating monastic fabric, and remodelled in the C16 and C19 when the northern third of the structure was converted into the Bailiffs Cottage.

Medieval and later limestone and septaria rubble walls, randomly coursed with red-brick repairs and tile covering to the barn roof.

A linear range.

The walls are thick with deep reveals to the varying window openings. The east facing (front) elevation has a stone band at the first floor, an ashlar doorway with a stone hood, three sash windows and single lights, some with stone surrounds others with brick. The west (rear) elevation of the barn has a partial plinth and partial first-floor stone band but is irregularly arranged with numerous window openings, taking in doors to the first floor and inconsistent later brick patching to earlier fabric. The south elevation has a blocked window with limestone surround and much reused stone in the main body of the wall.

The elevations to the cottage are largely obscured by plastic sheeting (November 2012), but the current List description notes that this one-storey-with-attic building has a restored red-brick chimney stack to the rear, buttresses to the elevations and three gabled dormers with small paned casements.

The east wall of the barn has consistently coursed stonework, suggesting that the exterior has been randomly faced with stone and septaria. The windows have four-centred arched openings and deep reveals; the west elevation has single-splayed windows. A four-centred arched door with segmented brick head leads to the second room where deeply chamfered transverse, bridging beams and C19 stable partitions are evident. The barn has a largely C19 exposed principal rafter roof with purlins, tie beams and raking shores.

The cottage has substantial transverse, chamfered bridging beams with crude stops to the floor frame throughout the ground floor. The entrances to the east and north are C19 interventions and there are some C19 fireplaces. Main stairs lead to the first floor where early masonry fabric and timber framing is exposed. The pegged, scissor-brace roof is predominantly C13 in date with some replaced timber elements. There are wide floorboards and a fireplace of the late-C18 or early-C19. On the ground floor, in a separate bay to the south of the polite rooms, early fabric and a blocked, arched doorway at the east elevation is exposed internally and externally. The first floor hay loft was not inspected.


The settlement now known as St Osyth is recorded as Chicc in the Domesday Book of 1086, and is said to be the location of a C7 convent founded by Acca, Bishop of Dunwich. Its first Abbess Osyth, daughter of the Mercian king Frithwald and wife to Sighere, the first Christian king of Essex is purported to have been brutally martyred at the hands of Danish marauders in 653. Her name was later commemorated by the renaming of the village as St Osyth, although it continued to be known also as Chich into the post-medieval period. The location of the convent is unknown although Nun’s Wood to the north of the Priory may be relevant. Within Nun’s Wood a possible moated site and a series of fish ponds may relate to pre- or early Priory occupation of the estate.

Archaeological finds of the C8 to C10 indicates a settlement of that date at or near to the present village. The Church of St Peter and St Paul is thought to be the site of St Peter’s Minister mentioned in a document of c.1050. The Domesday Book records that there were three Manors at Chicc in 1066.

The Priory was founded shortly after 1120 by Richard de Belmeis, Bishop of London, as a house for Augustinian canons from Holy Trinity, London. The Priory was dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, and St Osyth and became an abbey before 1161. It is most likely that a park was associated with the abbey, possibly from 1268 when a charter was granted to the abbey allowing some hunting rights. Of the monastic buildings, the earliest remaining work is the sub-vault of the Dorter range which is of the period of the foundation; the still existing portions of the walls bounding the Cloister on the east and west are possibly also of this date. The fragmentary upstanding remains of what was probably the Kitchen are of the early-C13; to the same period belong the remains of the early gatehouse. In c.1230–40 the Frater was rebuilt with the vaulted passage to the east of it; at the end of the C13 the vaults in the former west range were built. The Great Gatehouse and the ranges flanking it and projecting south from it were built in the late-C15; the eastern of these ranges incorporates the earlier gatehouse. In about 1527 extensive additions were made by Abbot Vyntoner who built the Abbot's Lodging, aligned east west on the north side of the court, with an adjoining range running north-south (known as the South Wing in 2012). These abbey buildings survive to varying degrees of intactness, the most prominent today being the gatehouse and the Abbot’s Lodging, both reflecting the abbey’s wealth in the late medieval period.

The Abbot and Canons took the Oath of Supremacy in 1534 and received pensions after the surrender in July 1539. Post-dissolution, the Priory was bought by Thomas, 1st Lord Darcy, Lord Chamberlain of Edward VI’s household in 1553. It was Darcy and his successors who, in the mid-C16 and after, transformed the abbey into a substantial house. At this time the conventual church, which flanked the cloister to the south, was destroyed together with the major portion of the east and west ranges of the cloister quadrangle; the ends of the remaining portions of these ranges were faced with chequer-work, the Abbot's and Clock Towers were built and the upper part of the dorter range rebuilt to form a residence. In the early years of the Civil War, when it belonged to the 3rd Lord Darcy’s daughter, Countess Rivers, the Priory was sacked.

It remained in the ownership of the Countess Rivers's heirs until 1714, but during this period it was largely uninhabited and ruinous. It then passed by marriage to Frederic Nassau de Zuylestein, 3rd Earl of Rochford. In the 1720s he built a new house on the north side of the precinct and restored the gatehouse. His son added the surviving C18 range and laid out the park. The Nassau family remained in possession of the Priory until 1858, when it passed to Charles Brandreth, only to be sold to Mr (later Sir) John Johnson, a London corn merchant, in 1863. Brandreth demolished Lord Rochford’s house. Johnson began the restoration of the Abbot’s Lodging in the 1860s and went on to restore the south range and embellish the gardens and park.

The property passed through a number of owners in the C20. The house was used as a convalescent home from 1948 until the 1980s. Between 1954 and 1999 the Priory was the home of Somerset de Chair who converted the gatehouse to a residence. His extensive art collection was displayed in the C18 house.

The surviving buildings on the site range in date from the C12 to the C19, and are complimented by buried archaeological remains pertaining to the Priory and a designed landscape of the late-C19 and C20. All of the buildings have a chequered history of alteration and change of use reflected in their fabric. The West Barn and the Bailiff’s Cottage are no exception. Forming part of the west side of the former main court, the fabric of the barn and cottage suggests that they are contemporary. The current list description and Smith suggest a C16 date, but Smith acknowledges that the remnants of monastic buildings may be incorporated into the structure, and that it may have monastic foundations; this was noted during the English Heritage inspection of November 2012. Reused stone in the structure indicates remodelling during its history; in Lord Darcy’s tenure the building was part of the service range depicted in Eyre’s 1762 survey of the Priory and estate and Wiggin’s survey of 1814. The rest of the service buildings were demolished in 1859 and the structure was divided into a cottage and farm building at some point in the C19. The barn has been used as a cowshed and chicken house during the C20; the roof structure is probably C19 and higher than the cottage which is vacant and in a poor condition, the roof collapsing and without covering. The barn was listed at Grade II* as the outbuilding adjacent to the north of the dairy in 1950. The cottage was listed at Grade II as the cottage adjoining the outbuilding in 1950. Both are currently scheduled.

Reasons for Listing

The West Barn and Bailiffs Cottage at St Osyth’s Priory are listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the buildings are contemporary, retaining monastic fabric, and are well constructed with deeply splayed windows;
* Interior: the Bailiffs Cottage has an early scissor-braced roof, the West Barn has four-centred arch openings and both structures retain chamfered bridging beams;
* Historic interest; the Priory is an important example of a monastic complex of the Augustinian order which individually and collectively played a significant role in the religious, economic and social life of medieval England. The post-Reformation remodelling of the West Barn and Bailiffs Cottage demonstrates the evolution of the priory buildings from the mid-C16 onwards, contributing to the unique character and overall architectural and historic interest of the site;
* Group value: the buildings have group value with the other designated buildings and structures on the site, the Scheduled Monument and the registered Park and Garden.

External Links

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