The 'south range', after Wilson 1861

The 1897 edition of the 1:2500 OS map shows the site standing within a partly infilled moat, originally about 160 m by 130 m overall. Traces of this moat survived until the late 1950s but by the beginning of the 1960s it had been quarried away by opencast mining.

The buildings within the moated area can be seen to have formed a regular quadrangle but only one element can be definitely attributed to the Hospitallers, the remainder being part of the post-dissolution  house, usually interpreted as the Widdington 'dower' house.

Described in The Buildings of Northumberland  as 'a real piece of vertical archaeology' the south elevation provides evidence of at least two phases of development, the first of which may be attributed to the 14th century and the Hospitallers. The whole architectural scheme is held together by a string course which rose and fell over the various original openings. The first of these respected by the string course was a doorway near the west end providing access to the chapel from the south. Set initially at ten courses above the plinth the string course dropped on either side of the doorway to the fifth course but then rose again over the arched opening, above which were two escutcheons - too warn to be deciphered but one probably displayed the Hospitallers emblematic 'Maltese' cross. Proceeding east from the door the string course then rose over three square headed windows. We know nothing of the form of these windows, which were blocked when the chapel was converted to domestic accommodation in the later 16th century. However,  the blocking of the eastern most  window includes a substantial fragment of 14th century tracery.                                    (continued)



           The 'south range', 2009


     

The element in question forms what is known in the literature as the 'south range' and consist of the south-east, north-east and fragments of the north-west walls of the Hospitallers' chapel, shown in black on the plan.  The chapel walls are built in finely-dressed coursed ashar over a chamfered plinth whereas the other buildings are of coursed rubble with dressed quions. This is well illustrated in Wilson's elevation drawing of the 'south range' which should be compared with the 2009 image below.

LOW CHIBBURN PRECEPTORY, archaeology.1