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Burton Upon Trent Abbey

In the civil parish of Burton Upon Trent.
In the historic county of Staffordshire.
Modern Authority of Staffordshire.
1974 county of Staffordshire.
Medieval County of Staffordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SK251227
Latitude 52.80119° Longitude -1.62937°

Burton Upon Trent Abbey has been described as a Fortified Manor House although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a Artillery Fort although is doubtful that it was such.

There are no visible remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Description

The abbey's domestic buildings were used by the college established in 1541. When the college was in its turn dissolved in 1545, its possessions included goods in the great hall, dean's hall, great chamber, king's chamber, outer (utter) hall and chamber, petty canons' house with kitchen and buttery, brewhouse, and bakery. It is uncertain how those buildings related to the former monastic arrangements, and when they were surveyed in 1546 for Sir William Paget only a great hall and a great chamber with an adjoining chamber were named, along with the former monastic dorter, frater, chapter house, and outhouses. The survey's measurements suggest that the great hall is the present Abbey inn and the great chamber the present Manor House.
The claustral buildings (dorter, frater, and chapter house), presumably converted to residential use by the dean of Burton college, were probably the house in which Sir William Paget's agents believed in 1546 that their master intended to reside when in Staffordshire; his opinion was especially sought about what was to become of the fountain in the courtyard. In fact Paget chose to live in a house he had built at Beaudesert, in Longdon, but in his will of 1560 he stipulated that he was to be buried at either Burton or West Drayton (Mdx.), depending on where he died. Indeed his withdrawal from state affairs on Elizabeth's accession in 1558 prompted him to plan a substantial house at Burton, apparently using the monastic cloister as an internal courtyard, and his visit to Burton in 1561 or 1562 was probably connected with the building work. The plan evidently fell through on his his death in 1563.
William's son Thomas certainly lived at Burton in the 1570s. According to an inventory of 1575, the rooms in his house there included a gallery (or 'long entry'), which led to tower chambers and which was probably part of a range of the converted claustral buildings. There were also chambers over a gatehouse, presumably that on the west side of the precinct. In 1580 Paget and his family occupied a 'great chamber' and rooms off the gallery. In 1585, however, what was described as 'the mansion house' was 'much in decay', and when plans were made that year to move Mary, Queen of Scots, temporarily from custody at Tutbury castle the house at Burton was considered unsuitable because it was 'ruinous'.
No later member of the Paget family lived at Burton, and in 1612 what was called the manor house site was let to a servant, Richard Almond. By that date the house was evidently further decayed, and Almond was not to be penalised if he let 'the great hall' fall into ruin, along with the kitchen, adjoining gallery, and 'wardrobe chamber' between the hall and kitchen; he was also allowed to demolish 'the great malting chamber', and use its timbers to repair other buildings on the site. Demolition probably took place soon afterwards, with the resultant loss of all the abbey's claustral buildings except the former infirmary (later the Abbey inn) and the so-called Manor House. (VCH)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1546 Jan 31 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

Comments

It is clear that although Paget planned a house on the site of the Abbey caustral building, which may already have been converted into a residence for the dean of Burton College, little or building took place. Two artillery "field pieces" are recorded in 1574. These may have been seriously intended to protect the important Trent crossing at Burton but may equally have been used in a more decorative/symbolic way.
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This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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