Medieval monastery window found at hotel
10 January 2009
A medieval monastery window about 600 years old has been discovered during building work at the Bedford Hotel in Tavistock. The important architectural discovery was made when builders constructing a new function room in a rear courtyard removed slate cladding from a wall, revealing the window. The window is described as trefoil-headed, framed and made from local Hurdwick stone.
An archaeological investigation by Dr Stuart Blaylock, of Exeter University, dated the window as late medieval, with rubble masonry from the 14th or 15th Century. The window was possibly part of the Abbot's lodgings.
The Bedford Hotel is built on the site of the former Benedictine Tavistock Abbey, which was founded around 981. By the end of the medieval period, the monastery had become the wealthiest and most important in Devon.
Dr Blaylock said: "Any find of this sort is significant as it is a finite resource. Tavistock Abbey is a jigsaw from which we only have ten to 15 per cent of the pieces remaining and no picture on the box. This has filled out the picture and added to what we know about this little corner of the Abbey."
Philip Davies, chairman of Warm Welcome Hotels, which owns the Bedford Hotel, said: "We are delighted that this important historical feature has been revealed and that we will conserve it for future generations."
Architect for the project Stephen Whettem said: "A key aim of the design of the new room was to bring into the public realm some of the hidden parts of Tavistock's heritage. The Function Room was designed as a simple roof canopy with fully glazed external walls, giving views of a number of important and historic buildings that surround it. The discovery of this very attractive and historic window opening is a real bonus."
The window will be conserved and protected by a toughened glass panel.