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THORNTON ABBEY

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An Augustinian house founded as a priory in 1139 by William Le Gros and raised to an abbey in 1148. After its suppression in 1539, Henry VIII refounded it as a college of secular priests and a school for 14 boys, re-using the monastic buildings. This college was supressed by Edward VI in 1547 and demolished by Sir Vincent Skinner in the years after 1602. In the north-west corner of the precinct, Skinner built a stately new house, which collapsed, reportedly, in about 1611 (record 1501692). The abbey's gatehouse (80449), built 1377-82, still stands, its floors and roof replaced in the 1830s. Wing walls added by 1389 survive in part. Revealed by excavations in the 1830s and 1950s, the earliest remains, the vaulted undercroft of the east cloister range, date to the early 13th century: a range of small rooms, one interpreted as a warming house. North of the undercroft are the remains of the late 13th century parlour. The partially standing chapter house dates to between 1282 and 1308. The north cloister range abutted the abbey church. The foundations indicate a late 13th century building with early 14th century alterations. The west and south cloister ranges were begun in 1322-3. Other remains from this phase include undercrofts used for storage, lay-brothers' accommodation, the monks' frater and the lodgings of the earlier abbots. The 30ha (75 acre) precinct is enclosed on the west by a moat; the Skitter Beck on the east may have been dammed to create a large pond on this side. Other moats sub-divide the interior. A discrete set of fishponds lies outside the precinct to the south (record 1501700). Documents, including a Chronicle compiled in about 1533, also points to the existence of barns, granaries, brewhouse, bakehouse, windmill and tidemill, guesthouse and almonry. Many of these structures survive as earthworks and buried remains; the site has been subject to various forms of survey. The gatehouse and claustral buildings are in Guardianship.

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