Worksop Priory Gatehouse and Cloister Wall
Case study: Priorswell Road, Worksop, Nottinghamshire (East Midlands)
Background and history
The Augustinian Priory of St Mary and St Cuthbert was founded sometime after 1119. It was once one of the largest Augustinian monasteries in the East Midlands. In 1291 it was the third wealthiest monastic house in Nottinghamshire.
The imposing gatehouse served as the main entrance to the priory complex. Here weary medieval travellers were received and provided with free shelter and food. The gatehouse largely dates from the early 14th century and retains intricate stone detailing. A south elevation porch, containing a shrine to St Mary, was added shortly after. The entrance on each side allowed for pilgrims to enter by one door. After kneeling and praying, they left by the other. It is thought that this is the only surviving example of an English medieval walkthrough shrine.
The nave of the present church and the gatehouse survived Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries. Little else of the monastic complex can be seen today. However, one other remarkable survival is the ruined cloister wall to the north of the church.
In the 17th century, the gatehouse was converted to the Abbey School for poor children. It was used as a school until the 1970s, serving generations of Worksop schoolchildren.
In more recent years, the gatehouse has seen occasional use. However, it has also suffered from vandalism and crime.
Is it at risk?
Yes. The gatehouse and cloister wall were added to the Buildings at Risk Register in 1998. There is an urgent need for repair works to the roof of the shrine. The condition of the remaining statues is a concern. Water coming in through roofs is damaging the fine vaulted ceiling and decoration below. Masonry repairs are also needed.
The cloister wall requires a careful and considered repair approach. Following loss of stonework, wall cores have been exposed. The stone is open-jointed in places. The condition of the wall will deteriorate rapidly if action is not taken.
What's the current situation?
The Worksop Priory and Gatehouse Community Trust was established in 2010. In 2009, Historic England offered a grant towards the cost of a condition survey. This resulted in a better understanding of the repair needs. A successful grant application by the Parochial Church Council under the Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme followed. After a sustained fundraising campaign, repair works will begin in late 2015. They will address some of the most urgent repair and conservation work.
The Parochial Church Council has been supported by the Prince's Regeneration Trust. Historic England is working closely with all parties to help with preparatory work ahead of repairs.
Historic England offered a separate grant for repair work to the cloister wall. Additional grants have also been secured from the Local Planning Authority and County Council. This project is also expected to begin on site later in 2015.
Worksop Priory Gatehouse image gallery
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