Monument record MLI84103 - Augustinian Priory of St Leonard’s, Torksey


Likely site of the Augustinian Priory of St Leonard’s, Torksey. The site shows evidence for high status religious buildings.

Type and Period (7)

  • (Medieval - 1154 AD? to 1536 AD)
  • (Medieval - 1154 AD? to 1536 AD)
  • (Medieval - 1400 AD? to 1536 AD)
  • (Medieval - 1100 AD to 1400 AD)
  • (Medieval - 1100 AD? to 1400 AD?)
  • (Medieval - 1200 AD to 1499 AD)
  • (Medieval - 1200 AD to 1499 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

The priory of St Leonard was founded during the reign of Henry II. It was probably a small house – in 1376 its residents were the prior and four canons. It was probably also a poor house – poverty was pleaded in 1319, and in 1519 the house was said to be very poor with no cloister or dormitory. The house was said to be 'greatly wasted by misrule' in 1346. It was dissolved in 1536. The priory remains were extensively looted in the 19th century for road stone, leaving no surface remains. {1}{2} The exact location of the priory is not known for certain. It was said to have been located in a field to the north of St Peter’s churchyard where its position was marked by a large elm tree, beneath which the ruins remained undisturbed. However, this area is an expanse of mud flats which would have been unable to support a major construction. The area to the east of the main road at about SK 8373 7895 seems more likely. {3}{4}{5}{6}{7}{8} Fields in this area are referred to as Abbey Yards and Christings on a map of 1751. {9}{10} Archaeological evaluation in 1997 in this area (SK 8375 7896) revealed high status stone structures dating from the medieval period (mainly 12-14th century). It had been suggested that this was site of the medieval market place (see PRN 50794), but the presence of substantial structural remains casts doubt on this theory. This excavation revealed wall remains, including a semi-circular feature which may represent an apsidal building, medieval pottery and various pits. There was evidence of floor layers with fragments of painted wall plaster, suggesting that this was a high status medieval building, possibly related to the priory. {11}{12} Further evaluation at SK 8377 7890, slightly further to the east, revealed at least four walls, which had been heavily robbed, and a floor surface consisting of large flat tiles, probably 15th century in date. Several rectangular stone blocks thought to be threshold blocks and a demolition layer which is probably associated with the dismantling of a substantial building were also seen. It has been suggested that the building is part of the remains of St Leonard's Priory. This is further supported by the recovery of moulded stone, medieval window pieces and a bone comb, all indicating a religious rather than secular building. Several burials, including cist burials, were also uncovered but they appear to pre-date the structures (see PRN54158). {13}{14} A resistivity survey was undertaken on a proposed residential development site at Torksey. The results concur with earlier investigations that the site contains extensive building remains and other archaeological features. It was not possible to precisely define the footprint of specific buildings. {15} A watching brief at the site revealed further medieval structural remains including walls and floor surfaces as well as later robber trenches. It seems likely that these remains relate to the priory. Burials of 13th-15th century date were uncovered and these are also likely to be associated with the priory. Earlier, pre-Conquest, cist burials were also discovered (see PRN54158), suggesting that the priory may have utilised the site of an earlier ecclesiastic site. Full skeletal analysis was carried out on all the burials from this site. {16}{17} It has been suggested that the human remains and masonry fragments (PRN 55403) found in the field shown as Staines Close on the 1751 map may be related to the priory. However, the results of the archaeological investigations in the fields opposite St Peter’s church (above) suggest that this is unlikely. Fluxgate gradiometer and resistivity surveys were undertaken on land at Torksey. The resistivity survey detected probable structural remains in the western half of the site. The survey did not define the precise footprint of a building, although it is possible that a number of anomalies indicate in-situ walls. The gradiometer survey failed to produce evidence of archaeological activity. {18} An alternative site for the 'monastery' was depicted on the 2nd edition 25 inch Ordnance Survey County Series Map, on the western side of Main Street, Torksey (PRN 54812a - SK 8370 7907). It is not marked on any of the other historic Ordnance Survey map editions for this area, however, and the siting is no longer thought likely. {19}

Sources/Archives (19)

  •  Bibliographic Reference: P.L. Everson, C.C. Taylor and C.J. Dunn. 1991. Change and Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire. Archive Notes.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: William Page (ed). 1906. The Victoria County History: Lincolnshire - Volume 2. pp.170-1.
  •  Index: Ordnance Survey. Torksey O.S. Cards. TORKSEY. SK 87 NW: 5.
  •  Index: Torksey SMR File. TORKSEY. SK 87 NW: AB.
  •  Article in Serial: BARLEY, M.W. ET AL. 1981. ANTIQUARIES JOURNAL. pp.264-92.
  •  Article in Serial: M.W. Barley. 1964. 'The Medieval Borough of Torksey: Excavations 1960-2' in The Antiquaries Journal. pp.165-87.
  •  Article in Serial: 1906. Associated Architectural and Archaeological Societies’ Reports and Papers. vol.28, pp.462-3.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: D. Knowles and R.N. Hadcock. 1953. Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales - First Edition. p.156.
  •  Report: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 1997. Land off Main Street, Torksey: Desk Top Study. LAS site code: TMS 97.
  •  Archive: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 1997. Land off Main Street, Torksey: Desk Top Study. LCNCC 1997.14.
  •  Report: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 1997. Land off Main Street, Torksey: Archaeological Evaluation. TMS97.
  •  Archive: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 1997. Land off Main Street, Torksey: Archaeological Evaluation. LCNCC 14.97.
  •  Report: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 2002. Main Street, Torksey Medical Centre. THAN01.
  •  Archive: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 2002. Mains Street, Torksey Medical Centre. LCNCC: 2001.109.
  •  Report: Pre-Construct Geophysics. June 2004. Resistivity Survey: Land at Torksey, Lincolnshire. -.
  •  Report: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 2005. Main Street, Torksey: Archaeological Watching Brief. TOMS03.
  •  Archive: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 2005. Main Street, Torksey: Archaeological Watching Brief. LCNCC 2003.109.
  •  Report: Pre-Construct Geophysics. 2007. Geophysical Survey on land off Main Street, Torksey. -.
  •  Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-06. 25 Inch County Series Map - Second Edition. 1:2500. SK 87 NW.



Grid reference Centred SK 8382 7892 (194m by 162m) Estimated from sources

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (5)

External Links (0)

Record last edited

Mar 21 2021 8:35PM


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