Sunday 4th, Saturday the 10th and Sunday 11th of September will be the final three opening days of the season for the Barn Museum and Heritage Centre in Abbey Fields. On these three days a copy of the Dictum of Kenilworth will be on display so that you can get up close to the text that helped shape our democracy.
The Dictum of Kenilworth was, in essence, a peace treaty with the rebels following the death of Simon de Montfort. The document marks the end of the reform movement and the restoration of royal power, although many of the reforms passed by Simon de Montfort were accepted by the king.
In November 1267, clauses from the Dictum of Kenilworth were incorporated into the Statute of Marlborough, which is still today the the oldest piece of statute law in the United Kingdom that has not yet been repealed.
The original Dictum manuscript is now held by the National Archives in a collection known as the Book of Statutes and Formulary book of writs. The National Archives rather colourfully records its creator as being the ‘Exchequer, and its related bodies, with those of the Office of First Fruits and Tenths, and the Court of Augmentations’.
Following its appearance in the Abbey Barn on the dates shown above, this display copy will be touring the schools of the area to educate the next generation on its realm shaping significance.
More information can be found on this remarkable document here.
Kenilworth Abbey ‘Barn’ Museum & Heritage Centre open both Saturday and Sunday 10th & 11th September 2.30 to 4.30 pm. On Saturday 10th there will also be a free guided walk of the Abbey ruins at 3pm.
If you have ever wondered who built Kenilworth Abbey, why it is sometimes called a Priory, what it looked like, who lived there and why it is now a ruin then do come along and joint our free guided walk.
Meet outside the Museum & Heritage Centre, Abbey Fields (just beyond children’s play area).
Another shot attributed to J. Tarver from 1963, this time of St Nicholas Church taken from within the Abbey ruins, with matching a 2016 counterpart shot.
It is not known when St Nicholas’ Church was established. The nearby Priory (later Abbey) of St Mary was established by Geoffrey de Clinton in 1122 and we do know that there was a church on this site in the patronage of the Priory as of 1291.
The monks would be expected to have sole use of the abbey itself and local worshippers would be expected to attend a separate parish church nearby.
Parts of the church are Norman, including the base of the tower and the west door. Later alterations include the fashioning of the square tower into a pointed steeple, plus the addition of transepts in the 19th century. The West Door is made up of Norman sculpture, and was created, probably in the 16th Century, from pieces rescued from the recently demolished Abbey. Pevsner’s Warwickshire and the revised edition of that work describe it as the ‘most sumptuous Norman doorway in Warwickshire’, the new edition acknowledging that it is a later composite. Visitors should compare it with the entrance to Leicester’s Gatehouse in the Castle.
Little has changed in between the 1960s and 2016 shots however, save for the growth of a few trees and the loss of a stone cross atop the gravestone in the foreground. A flag pole can be seen in the background of the 1963 shot. Individual stones can be matched between the two photos in the wall in the foreground.
According to The Abbey of St Mary guidebook by E. Carey-Hill (Odiboure Press, 1985) “What is now known as the Lapidarum Wall was completely rebuilt from its foundations, including the bench, in 1984. The work was carried out by Messrs. A. C. Lloyd (Builders) Ltd of Leamington Spa for Warwick District Council, with advice from the Inspectorate of Historic Buildings & Monuments Commission for England. The Lapidarum Wall was designed by Dr Richard Morris of the University of Warwick, who was assisted by members of the Kenilworth History & Archaeology Society in the arranging of material prior to rebuilding”.
Messrs. A. C. Lloyd (Builders) Ltd of Leamington Spa for Warwick District Council, with advice from the Inspectorate of Historic Buildings & Monuments Commission for England. The Lapidarum Wall was designed by Dr Richard Morris of the University of Warwick, who was assisted by members of the Kenilworth History & Archaeology Society in the arranging of material prior to rebuilding”.