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Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County Durham (Unitary Authority)
Framwellgate Moor
National Grid Reference:
NZ 29643 47130


FRAMWELLGATE MOOR FINCHALE AVENUE NZ 24 NE (North side, off) 2/19 Finchale Priory 10/5/67 GV I

Ruins of priory, daughter house of Durham, incorporating hermitage of St. Godric. Earliest surviving structures are c.1196, erected for accommodation while principal ranges were erected. Main buildings from c.1237 until late C13, when the earlier buildings were also extended. Church completed c.1277. Circa 1364 church aisles demolished, except for that on south of nave which became north cloister walk, arcades blocked and windows inserted; small addition to north-east of church; cloisters altered. Also C14 are frater and building to north-west of cloister. C15 addition of kitchen to south-east of cloister linking with prior's lodgings, which were altered and extended. Coursed sandstone rubble with plinth and ashlar dressings; no roof survives.

Plan of first buildings shows hall with screens; north solar; large cross wing added to solar; passage to east of solar leads to garderobe. Church plan has 4-bay nave, 5-bay quire, presbytery and vestry, with aisles removed; transepts with east chapel on north; crossing tower. Cloister south of nave: east range has chapter house adjacent to south transept, then slype and various storage rooms, all with dorter on first floor of which only gables survive. South range has frater-with undercroft; slype at east end. West has high blank wall and small square building at north. To south-east, reredorter adjoins east range; north of this and at higher level kitchens link to Prior's lodgings which are parallel to church and have hall, camera, study and chapel with undercrofts.

First buildings survive to a height of a few courses, and are domestic rather than ecclesiastical in character. Church: wide west door below 3 lancets of which heads are lost. North walls survive to level of heads of moulded 2-centred arches of arcade, the blocking enclosing original columns and containing windows with reticulated tracery, dated to 1364, only that in the quire surviving complete. Other walls survive to below this level. Buttresses, clasping at corners. Interior shows nave piers alternately round and octagonal, with moulded plinths and capitals; quire and presbytery have 3 north arches, the easternmost with capital revealed to show finely-carved acanthus leaves, crockets and pine cones. Interior shows double-shafted blind tracery to large east window splays; window head removed. Aumbry in north and piscina and sedilia in south presbytery walls. Foundations of earlier Chapel of St. Godric, with site of his tomb, within presbytery. Some plaster with geometric painting survives on piers. Massive round crossing piers, with newel stair in north-west. North transept has 2 west lancets; on east, a small C14 door between blocked 2-centred-arched door to chapel, and similar window with Decorated tracery, each with altar below. South transept, former Lady Chapel, has altar below large east window.

Cloistral ranges: East: chapter house has dripmoulds over wide central door flanked by large windows; interior shows stepped stone wall benches along 3 sides, with stone arms to Prior's seat at centre east: south end of range subdivided by C15 walls into storage rooms and large south room of unknown function, without windows. South range has 3-storey west part to same height as 2-storey east part which was raised to 3 storeys; steps up to moulded 2-centred-arched doorway of 2 orders leading to cloister garth from west bay; mouchettes in window above. 4 north lancets to cloister, 2 in west gable and 5 in south wall, with square windows to undercroft and to added storey, of which only part survives. Steps down to 2-centred-arched, doors to undercroft at centres of north and east elevations. Interior shows undercroft has rib vaulting resting on keeled shafts and quatrefoil piers without capitals, some with plain plaster surviving. In west bay of frater a fireplace at south end of west wall has plain stone lintel; a central stone-hooded fireplace above has shafted corbels; C15 divisions in west bays. West range has high blank wall, with C13 door at north end leading to buttressed C14 undercroft of building of unknown function; excavation suggests other buildings existed on this range, perhaps guest accommodation, since blank to cloister. Interior of north-west building shows vault with 6 square ribs springing from central octagonal pier. Cloister walks show C13 bases of paired shafts on south, and C14 windows surviving only to sill level on east and west. North walk has one filleted shaft on north face, unrelated to present structure. Reredorter has natural rock floor and shows no drain, only a clearance arch at east. Corbels for pent roof, close-set on south. Prior's lodgings: east-west range has vaulted undercrofts except for barrel vault at east end; some vaulting survives, with chamfered ribs on filleted shafts. Shouldered heads to 2 doors in south wall, and to one in west wall of chapel which projects to south. Buttressed east wall of chapel has plain door and window to undercroft; 3-light window above with some Decorated tracery. East elevation of camera has dripmould over high-2-centred-arched window with cusped tracery; C15 stair-turret to north. Study to north of this has 2 two-light windows, one with lancet heads and one with segmental heads; C15 garderobes. North elevation of study shows buttressed oriel window. Interior shows 2 west undercrofts had ribbed vaulting with filleted shafts; barrel vault in 2 eastern bays, with part of tiled floor surviving above.

The history of the site begins with St. Godric living there from 1115 until his death in 1170, when the buildings became the property of the Prior of the Convent of Durham (Benedictine). In 1196 it was granted to Hugh Puiset, son of Bishop le Puiset, in return for the closing of his Augustinian Canons' foundation, (a daughter house of Guisborough) called New Place on the River Browney; he then granted Finchale to the Durham house, and at the same time granted to the Prior and Convent of Durham the right to elect the Prior of Finchale. After this the first surviving buildings were erected; these are a rare example of such structures.

Sources: C.R. Peers, 'Finchale Priory' in Archaeologia Aeliana, 4. IV, 1927, pp. 193-220;

C.R. Peers, Finchale Priory, H.B.M.C. official guide, 1984, first published 1973.

Surtees Society VI, 1837 II, 'The Priory of Finchale'.

A schedule ancient monument.

Listing NGR: NZ2964447123


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Peers, CR , Finchale Priory, (1984)
'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Archaeologia Aeliana, , Vol. 4, (1927), 193-220
'Surtees Society' in The Priory of Finchale, , Vol. 6, (1837)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 18 Sep 2001
Reference: IOE01/03805/01
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Bob Cottrell. Source Historic England Archive
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