Norfolk Journey: Castle Acre Priory

Posted: October 9, 2017 in History, Medieval History, Norfolk, UK
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The priory was founded by William de Warrenne, Earl of Surrey on his land at Acre in Norfolk. The first Earl together with his wife had journeyed to Rome on pilgrimage and stopped at the monastery of Cluny in France. He subsequently invited the Cluniac order to establish a priory at Lewes in Sussex. It is not clear if it was this William or his son, also called William, who invited the Cluniac monks to establish a new house on the families land in Norfolk at Acre.

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The priory as it would have looked before the dissolution

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The west end of the priory church

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The cloisters of the priory formed the centre around which all the other buildings were arranged

The Prior’s Solar and a fragment of medieval wall painting from the Prior’s chapel suggesting that it would have been highly decorated

The priory was very successful and continued to grow until the time it was surrendered to the crown commissioners in 1537 on the orders of Henry VIII. The land was given to Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk won had the priory buildings demolished with the exception of the Priors lodgings which were converted into a private residence.

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The Prior’s lodgings showing some of the changes that occurred when it was converted into a private residence

The ownership passed to Edward Coke, Earl of Leicester in the 17th century and has remained in the Coke family ever since. The site is now managed by English Heritage.

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