Mount Grace Priory Carthusian monastery: monastic precinct, fishponds, moat, mill and well-houses


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013019

Date first listed: 08-Feb-1915

Date of most recent amendment: 26-Jun-1992


Ordnance survey map of Mount Grace Priory Carthusian monastery:  monastic precinct, fishponds, moat, mill and well-houses
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Hambleton (District Authority)

Parish: East Harlsey


National Grid Reference: SE 44893 98514


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

A charterhouse is a monastery of the Carthusians. The order was founded in the 11th century, the first houses in England being established in the 12th or 13th century. It is a settlement planned to provide a community of contemplative monks with facilities for worship, accommodation and, to some extent, subsistence. Carthusian life was centred on solitude and favoured meditation over communal meeting. In taking this approach to monastic life the Carthusians were unique amongst orders in the West. In contrast to other monastic establishments the components of the charterhouse were devoted to individual accommodation in preference to communal buildings. Most notable were the individual cells and gardens built for each monk, these being ranged around a great cloister. In addition to these cells each monastery had a main church, workshops, guesthouses, kitchens and other buildings, these being enclosed within some form of boundary. Like other monasteries, charterhouses were inextricably woven into the fabric of medieval society, acting not only as centres of worship, learning, and charity, but also, because of their vast landholdings, as centres of immense wealth and political influence. Nine charterhouses were established in medieval England. In view of their rarity and unique form of organisation, all examples exhibiting archaeological survival are identified as nationally important.

Mount Grace is by far the best preserved Carthusion monastery in the country. The well preserved buildings clearly demonstrate how the Carthusian's arrangement differed from those of other orders.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Mount Grace Priory is situated between Ingleby and Osmotherly in North Yorkshire. The monument comprises a single area containing the standing remains of the Carthusian charterhouse properly titled the House of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin and St Nicholas of Mount Grace at Ingleby. Also included is a range of additional features associated with the monastery, such as a fishpond, three well-houses, a moat and the remains of the priory mill. Extensive standing remains demonstrate the typical layout of a charterhouse. Each monk had his own cell and garden where he ate, slept, laboured and prayed, while farming, food preparation and other communal activities were carried out by lay-brothers. The plan of the charterhouse reflects this arrangement and comprises an inner court to the south, entered via a gatehouse and enclosed by buildings, giving access on the north side to the Great Cloister around which the monks' cells were arranged. The church, chapterhouse, frater (communal dining hall) and prior and sacristans' cells divided the two courts, along with a much smaller Little Cloister south of the church, added at a late stage to increase the number of cells. Each cell occupied part of a 15.3m square walled garden and consisted of a ground floor divided into four rooms by timber partitions and an upper floor which acted as a work-room, since every Carthusian practised a trade. The ground floor rooms comprised an entrance passage, a hall (living area) with a fireplace and stairs up to the work room, a study and a bedroom with its own oratory or private chapel. A corridor overlooking the garden was also meant for study and meditation, while another led to the garderobe or latrine. Several of the cells and gardens at Mount Grace have been excavated and, although no two gardens have been identical, each has shown evidence of horticultural activities such as planting trenches and herb beds. A niche in the wall in one or other of the corridors contained a tap that provided each cell with water piped from a central conduit house, and a hole in the cloister wall by each door acted as a service hatch and was right-angled to prevent the inmate of the cell and the server from seeing each other. The standing remains of the outer court include five separate two storey buildings, arranged round three sides of the court, plus the gatehouse and guesthouse range with a bakehouse and brewery attached. All were originally built of timber in the 15th century and had been rebuilt in stone by the early 16th. The ground floor of the west range was occupied by a series of camerae (small rooms or offices) while the upper storeys of every range were occupied by granaries, an indication that grain-production was the basis of the monastery's economy. The south range consisted of a store, stable and granary-cum-kilnhouse, a type usually associated with malting barley for brewing. The east range of the inner court no longer exists above ground but the foundations of additional buildings survive underneath. Part of the outer court is indicated to the west of the priory by the fragmentary remains of the priory mill and a complex of water-management works including fishponds and a moat. The church at Mount Grace was built in four main phases between c.1400 and the early 16th century, when the burial chapel to the south of the presbytery was added. In comparison with churches belonging to other monasteries of different Orders, it appears small and plain. But the daily round of services practised by these Orders was not emulated by the Carthusians who used their churches primarily for mass, matins and vespers. The monks occupied the eastern part of the church and were separated from the lay brothers, who used the western part, by a screen. All of the main building phases are represented by standing remains. Like the monasteries of other Orders, charterhouses were notable for the efficiency of their sanitation and plumbing arrangements and, north of the church, at the centre of the Great Cloister, is a conduit house which supplied piped water to each cell. The source of the monastery's water was three springs, rising on the slope to the east, each of which had its own well-house and two of which have been excavated and reconstructed. The conduit house was supplied with drinking water from the well to the north-east, drawn by gravity along a lead pipe sandwiched between two layers of stone flags. Where the pipe passed through the precinct wall, there was an arrangement whereby surplus water was drawn off in order to flush the drains running beneath the kitchens and latrines. Mount Grace was the eighth of the nine English charterhouses to be founded, licence being granted in 1398 to Thomas de Holand, Duke of Surrey and Earl of Kent. De Holand was a supporter of Richard II and was beheaded in 1400 for his part in the rebellion against Henry IV. With his fall the monastery too suffered, because his entitlement to the manor of Bordelby, with which he had endowed the charterhouse, seems to have been insecure and a series of disputes over ownership followed. From the mid 15th century, however, due largely to the rapid rise in popularity of the Carthusian Order, the priory's endowment was improved by additional grants so that, by the first Act of Dissolution in 1536, it was one of the richest monasteries to escape suppression. It was finally suppressed in 1539 and the priory granted to James Strangways. After his death in 1541, it passed through several owners until being sold to Thomas Lascelles in 1653. Lascelles converted the buildings north of the gate into a private house and the priory remained with his family until being given to the Treasury and thence to the National Trust in 1953. Apart from St John's Well, the site has been in State Care since 1955 and is a Grade I Listed Building. A number of features within the protected area are excluded from the scheduling. These include all National Trust and English Heritage fixtures such as signs, grilles and bridges, the surfaces of paths, driveways and car- parks, all modern fencing and walling, the custodian's house, ticket office and the 17th century house of Thomas Lascelles which is more appropriately protected by its Grade II* Listed status. The ground beneath all these exclusions is, however, included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 13281

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Coppack, G, English Heritage Book of Abbeys and Priories, (1990)
English Heritage, , Mount Grace Priory, (1971)
Saunders, A D, Medieval Archaeology , (1958)
Hope St John, W H, 'Archaeological Journal' in Archaeological Journal, , Vol. 58, (1901)
Keen, L J, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Archaeology, , Vol. 14, (1970)
Saunders, A D, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Archaeology (pg 306), , Vol. 3, (1959)
Saunders, A D, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Archaeology (pg 314), , Vol. 5, (1961)
Coppack, Glyn, (1990)
English Heritage, An EH monograph on archaeological work carried out to c.1992, Forthcoming in c.1995

End of official listing