Developments at the Abbey of St Edmund


Bury St Edmunds Abbey © David Gill

Historic England has indicated that the tennis courts located immediately to the east of the crypt of the abbey of St Edmund can be moved and relocated on the other side of the river (“Historic England approves relocation of Abbey’s tennis courts“, BBC News 8 March 2018). The abbey and its precinct is subject to two consultancy studies (see here).

Bayham Abbey: Guidebook


1974 (1985)

Bayham Abbey in Sussex was placed in State Guardianship in 1961 and excavated through the 1970s. S.E. Rigold prepared the first official guidebook for the DOE in 1974; it was republished as a English Heritage Handbook (note, not ‘guidebook’), and still in the familiar blue cover, by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England. The format follows the familiar pattern of History followed by description. There is a site plan in text (p. 12). Black and white photographs appear through the text. A glossary is printed inside the back cover.

The abbey was of the Premonstratensian order and had been founded by 1211.

The guidebook was reprinted (with a colour cover) in 2004 as an English Heritage guide.

Westminster Abbey: Guidebooks



Stuart Rigold (1919–80) joined the Ministry of Works as an Assistant Inspector of Ancient Monuments in 1948 under Bryan O’Neil. One of his first tasks was to write a short (paper) guidebook of the Pyx Chamber at Westminster Abbey and issued by the Ministry of Works (1949; 2 d.). It consists of four pages starting with the history, showing that this part of the abbey could be placed during the reign of King Edward the Confessor, followed by a description. Page 3 consists of a plan of the Pyx Chamber.


1953 (4th impress. with amendments 1965; 1st ed. 1935)

In 1953 Rigold revised John George Noppen’s guidebook (1935) to the Chapter House and Pyx Chamber at Westminster Abbey. Noppen (1887-1951) had earlier published Westminster Abbey and its Ancient Art (London, 1926) and A Guide to the Medieval Art of Westminster (London, 1927).

The Ministry guidebook consisted of a history, followed by an architectural description, then sections on the sculpture, the paintings, the tiled pavement, the windows, and the exhibits (including the Roman coffin of Valerius Amandinus, RIB 16). Rigold notes the recent damage to the windows during the air-raids of the Second World War.  There is a fold-out plan at the back (showing the relationship between the chapter house and the Pyx Chamber).

Titchfield Abbey: guidebook


1954 (repr. 1962)

The Premonstratensian abbey at Titchfield was founded from the foundation at Halesowen in Worcestershire after 1214. It was dissolved in 1537 and Thomas Wriothesley had the buildings adapted into a residence.

The ruins were acquired by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries c. 1914–18, and their responsibility fell to the H.M. Office of Works in 1923. The site is now in the care of English Heritage.

The guidebook was written by Rose Graham (History) and S.E. Rigold (description). It consists of 12 pages, and the centre pages include a plan of the abbey.  The original price was 4 d. (1962).

Heritage Futures Seminar: The Abbey of St Edmund


The Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership is seeking to record and interpret the remains of the Benedictine abbey in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Richard Summers will be talking about the work of the partnership on Wednesday 21 February 2018 at 4.30 pm in the Waterfront Building of the University of Suffolk. The event forms part of the Heritage Futures research seminar series.

Places can be reserved via Eventbrite. All are welcome and there is no charge.

Further details about the project can be found here.

For the abbey:

Dundrennan Abbey: night-stairs and dorter


Dundrennan Abbey © David Gill

The site of the night stairs from the dorter at Dundrennan Abbey are located in the south transept.


Dundrennan Abbey © David Gill

The dorter was located above the chapter house, and remains of one of the windows can be seen in the upper section.


Dundrennan Abbey © David Gill


Dundrennan Abbey © David Gill


Dundrennan Abbey © David Gill

The reredorter was located at the southern end of the range.

Bury St Edmunds: Charnel House

IMG_0742The charnel house at Bury St Edmunds lay within the precinct of the abbey, just to the south of the west end. It lies in what is now the Great Cemetery. This structure was built by Abbot John Northwold (d. 1301) [see ODNB]. This was constructed to take the bones of the dead recovered from the construction of new graves.