Heritage - Gisborough PrioryIn 1119, the Norman baron, Robert de Brus, founded a priory for Augustinian monks at Guisborough, on land bequeathed by William the Conqueror. He founded the priory to provide a fitting burial place for himself and his family, and a place where the monks would pray for their souls.
The de Brus family generously endowed the priory with gifts and lands, including the manors of Guisborough (7,884 acres) and Kirkleatham (1,400 acres) and the tithes of ten churches. Other Norman barons later granted lands, adding to the priorys wealth.
In 1263, Henry III granted the priory the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair of three days in the town, providing further income though rents. Owing to its privileges and ownership of much of the surrounding land and property in the town, the priory came to dominate the town and the local economy, and became one of the richest monasteries in Yorkshire.
When Henry VIII established himself as Head of the Church of England, all religious houses in England were assessed by commissioners, with the eventual intention of closing them down, and passing all their assets to the King.
In 1550 the priory was sold to Sir Thomas Chaloner who lived in the west range, before building a new home on priory land to the southwest. Later generations of the family cleared away the cloister buildings and much of the church, to create formal gardens, selling off or reusing the stone. The east wall of the church was kept as a landscape feature and the cloister became a bowling green.
The site is still owned by the Chaloner family and is managed by English Heritage.
The immaculately maintained grounds are open to the public with the ruins and surrounding lawns offering peace and tranquillity only yards away from the bustling town centre.
The Gisborough Priory Project, a local voluntary group, are working towards the restoration of the gardens which were created by the Chaloner family and which have been associated with Gisborough Priory from at least 1700.
The Priory Gardens site is currently undergoing restoration and is open to the public only on advertised open days when access is by guided tour only.
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