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KENILWORTH ABBEY

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  KENILWORTH PRIORY, ST MARYS ABBEY
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Kenilworth Priory, an Augustinian Priory of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The priory was founded by Geoffrey de Clinton, chamberlain and treasurer to Henry I, at the same time as Kenilworth Castle in 1125, and became an abbey in 1447. The priory had the second highest income of any monastery in Warwickshire by the time of the Dissolution, after which materials from its redundant buildings were reused at the castle. Very little survives above ground; the two structures still standing are part of the gatehouse built in 1361-75, and the 'Abbey Barn'. The gatehouse is constructed of red sandstone and is believed to be of 14th century date; its proximity to the west end of the church suggests it was the gate to the inner court. 'Abbey Barn', another domestic building lying approximately 40 metres to the south, is of unknown purpose. Believed to date to the 14th century, it is a rectangular building of red sandstone, originally of two stories and measuring approximately 12 metres by 8 metres.

To the east are the remains of the abbey church and cloisters. Part of the west wall of the abbey church stands to a height of 3-4 metres, as does part of the south wall of the chapter house. The footings of the western parlour and the south wall of the nave, as well as parts of the transepts and chancel of the church, are also visible. Excavations have allowed the plan to be recovered, and demonstrated that there were at least two phases of stone church building, an early Norman church and a later extended church. The plan of the abbey followed closely the standard plan of a reformed abbey, influenced by the Cistercian order. Slight earthworks indicate that much of the plan survives as buried remains. Within the Abbey Fields are earthwork and buried remains of several features including a piped water supply, the abbey water mill, fishponds, windmill, tracks and roads as well as medieval ridge and furrow cultivation remains, and the remains of the precinct boundary wall.

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