The mid- to late-C18 walls and later bothies of the kitchen garden at St Osyth's Priory.
Reason for Listing
The mid-to late-C18 kitchen garden walls and attached bothies north-east of St Osyth's Priory are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: their relatively early date and high degree of intactness confers special architectural interest;
* Group value: the walls and bothies have clear historical and functional group value with the designated buildings at St Osyth's Priory and the registered Park and Garden;
* Historical interest: the kitchen garden was probably constructed by the fourth Earl Rochford, a significant figure in the historical development of St Osyth's Priory and its landscape.
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, if it existed, 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 which may relate to pre-Priory occupation of the monastic estate, but this is not certain.
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. Significant elements from these abbey buildings survive, principally the late 15th century gatehouse and the Bishop’s Lodgings added for Abbot John Vyntoner in 1527, reflecting the abbey’s wealth in the late medieval period. The Abbot and 20 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-16th century and after, transformed the abbey into a substantial house. 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’s Rivers 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 18th century range and laid out the park. The Nassau’s 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 Bishop’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 20th century. Between 1954 and 1999 the Priory was the home of Somerset de Chair. Darcy House was used as a convalescent home from 1948, and de Chair converted the gatehouse as a residence.
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 walled kitchen garden was probably built by the fourth Earl Rochford in the mid-C18; it was reached via the woodland walks through the former C18 Wilderness. It is not depicted on Eyre’s 1762 survey of the estate, but is shown on the Wiggins survey of 1814. The historic Ordnance Survey (OS) map shows the walled garden in the same configuration at the time of inspection (2012), with a bothy attached to the interior southern wall, the gardener’s cottage at the exterior of the east elevation and two small sheds attached to the exterior of the west wall. The latter have been replaced in the C20. Further kitchen gardens, at least one large glasshouse and orchards are shown to the south, beyond the wall and a smithy and gasometers are noted east of the Gardener’s cottage, a typical mid- to late-C19 house. The ruinous glasshouses within the walled garden are first shown on the OS map of 1923.
The mid- to late-C18 walls and later bothies of the kitchen garden located approximately 100m to the north-east of the Priory.
Soft red brick laid in Flemish bond.
An irregular rectangular shape, aligned east-west, with a slightly curving south wall and convex west wall.
Regularly spaced brick piers are constructed around the perimeter. The main entrance is centrally placed in the north wall, comprising two brick piers with flat capping and dentils and a two-leaf timber door with applied latticework. A secondary, pedestrian entrance is at the south-west corner. A brick shed is attached to the north-east corner.
It is divided into two by a central walk and contains a perimeter gravel path edged by box borders. The ground is partly laid to grass and partly cultivated for vegetables. Attached to the south wall is a low brick bothy with a slated, pent roof, numerous door and window openings and a brick chimney.
The Gardener’s Cottage and associated outbuilding, the back walls of which are incorporated into the east wall of the garden, are excluded from the listing. The bothy attached to the west wall of the garden is excluded. The C20 glasshouse attached to the inside face of the north wall, and the bases of early C20 glasshouses within the garden, are also excluded from the listing.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.