8 April – Meeting the Original Priory

A hidden history tour with volunteer guide Lynn Wilmott who introduced me to the architecture of the original priory, much of which still exists underneath and within the walls of the existing house.  You get a very strong sense of the original priory built in 1201 at ground floor level where the vaulted arches of the Cellarium remain complete and the carved arch of the pulpitum can be seen in the restaurant.  What I hadn’t fully appreciated is that the priory was not demolished or built on top of when the tudor mansion was constructed.  The largest part of the church – the nave – remains in tact and the tudor mansion built around it.  When you stand in the grand rooms to the north side of the house you are standing in the nave of the Medieval priory.   The stone walls were simply clad with wood or plaster and the old church continues to provide the stone skeleton to the current house.  Some glimpses of this romanesque architecture were exposed within the ornately decorated rooms during refurbishment in the 20th c.

Columns from the Chapter House, relocated at the east entrance

Columns from the Chapter House, relocated at the east entrance

The north west corner of the current house is built around the nave of the 13th c priory.  The volume of this part of the house is the same as the volume of the original nave.  It was a narrow, tall architectural space with no pillars.

The north west corner of the current house is built around the nave of the 13th c priory. The volume of this part of the house is the same as the volume of the original nave. It was a narrow, tall architectural space with no pillars.

The original west wall of the priory can be seen 'back of house' near the kitchens

The original west wall of the priory can be seen ‘back of house’ near the kitchens

 

At the west end of the north facade of the house can be seen the  sides of an open archway that would have joined the North Transept to the Tower

At the west end of the north facade of the house can be seen the sides of an open archway that would have joined the North Transept to the Tower

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