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Seeing the light of day – Selborne Priory

Selborne Priory in its prime: reconstruction by Mark Samuel

Selborne Priory in its prime: reconstruction by Mark Samuel

Excavations at Selborne Priory, a religious house founded in 1233 for Augustinian canons by Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, and dissolved in 1486 by his successor William Waynflete, took place between 1953 and 1971. The early work was by enthusiastic amateurs, but the final two seasons were led by David Baker, who has now brought the site to publication.

As well as revealing considerable detail about the range of buildings (the site today is a series of humps and bumps at Priory Farm) the excavations unearthed 13 burials in four locations, six of them in stone coffins.  Coins and tokens, pottery, glass, lead cames and a major series of decorated medieval floor tiles were also found.

An inlaid floor tile from the site

An inlaid floor tile from the site

This floor tile relates to the story of Richard, Bishop of Chichester, who blessed the fish pond on a day when they were catching nothing – and a three-foot long pike was immediately netted!

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The report also considers the documentary evidence, including previously unpublished references to repairs in 1513-14. Reconstructions of the buildings are proposed by comparison with nearby Titchfield Abbey and in the wider context of Augustinian planning.

The report is published as Hampshire Field Club Monograph 12 – Selborne Priory:Excavations 1953-1971 by David Baker

Details of how to obtain a copy can be found on the Hampshire Field Club & Archaeological Society website.