Wither the Stones of Boxley Abbey?

A recent survey undertaken at the post-Dissolution ruins of the former Cistercian Abbey at Boxley, Kent recorded only a small selection of graffiti on the few upstanding architectural elements that survived the ravages of its destruction. Hardly surprising, considering how little remains. Architectural elements uncovered as work progresses are being stored at the site (Plates 1 – 3).

Plate 1: Surviving architectural elements are being stored awaiting restoration (c) W Perkins 2022
Plate 2: Some of the few upstanding walls of the Abbey of Boxley (c) W Perkins 2022.
Plate 3: Surviving architectural elements are being stored awaiting restoration (c) W Perkins 2022.

However, a survey of its associated Abbey Barn – original used as the Abbeys Hospitium and later as a tithe barn – revealed more convincing evidence for ritual practices (Plates 4 & 5).

Plate 4: Abbey Hospitium and later Tithe Barn, Boxley (c) W Perkins 2022

Many of the main structural elements within the barn were found to have been subject to the application of intentional taper burns – a form of sympathetic magic intended to ward against fire and lightning strikes (Plate 5).

Plate 5: ‘Intentional’ taper burn applied to timber upright (partially covered by later wooden repair/addition). Deep (and in this case wide – about 25mm in width) burns required persistent and repeated application of a flame to mark the green oak timber.

A number of exciting projects are happening around the Boxley Abbey complex this year including the refurbishment by S.P.A.B. (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) of the former 15th century St Andrew’s Chapel which claimed to possess the relic of a finger of St Andrew clad in a silver receptacle. After the Dissolution the chapel was converted into a house and once owned by the Tudor poet Thomas Wyatt and became the local Post Office between the 1930-s to the 1970’s (SPAB 2022). The former medieval chapel is now partially hidden by the later building additions.

St Andrew’s Chapel will be the subject of a forthcoming article on RPM&RP.

S.P.A.B.’s Old House Project: Can you see the 15th century chapel beneath the later building elements and additions? (c) W Perkins 2022.

Learn more about the fate of Boxley Abbey, the discoveries in the Tithe Barn, developments at St Andrew’s chapel and more in the forthcoming RPM&RP talk for MAAG

The talk is free but registration is required. The Zoom Talk code will be sent out 48 hours prior to the event. Registration can be done through wmp1@yahoo.com or via the society’s webpage –





More news about SPAB’s work at Boxley (and beyond) can be found here –



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