The JESSOP Consultancy

Lichfield + Sheffield + Oxford

Woburn Abbey,

Bedfordshire

Grade I Listed Building (NHLE: 1114006, 1114011, 1158192, 1158201, 1114012, 1321667); Grade II* Listed Building (NHLE 1114010); Grade II Listed Building (NHLE 1114009) Grade I Registered Garden (NHLE: 1000364)

Desk-based Research, and Historic Building Recording 

OASIS: thejesso1-301242

As part of a Masterplan to improve the visitor experience at the Grade I Listed Woburn Abbey two projects have been undertaken to inform the proposed works in relation to the House and surrounding Heritage Assets.

The Site was established as a Cistercian Abbey in 1145 by Hugh de Bolebec with monks from Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire. At the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, the Abbey was initially leased by the Crown to Sir Francis Bryan, before finally being reverted in 1547 to John, Baron Russell of Cheynes, later to become the 1st Earl of Bedford. The remains of the Abbey were gradually converted and replaced with new buildings to form a substantial courtyard house with four wings principally during the 18th century. The east range and associated parts of the house were subsequently demolished in c.1950 due to an infestation of dry rot. The pleasure garden extended beyond these structures to the north, east and south - the existing form is largely due to a design by Humphry Repton.

Evidence survives to confirm that a former monastic community existed on the site, but the amount of extant historic fabric is almost non-existent. Remains of former structural elements of the Abbey, or buried remains in the form of graves are documented in the historical record, and three in-situ burials were identified during ground works in the Grotto Garden in 2013. A section of a masonry buttress from the former Abbey was also uncovered during remodeling of the house in the 1960s.

Scope of work: archive research, reappraisal of archaeology; measured survey, photogrammetry