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Guidebook: Gisborough Priory


Product Code: 504168

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Gisborough Priory in Yorkshire is the subject of the latest addition to English Heritage’s acclaimed Red Guide series. This fully illustrated guidebook includes a complete tour and a history of the priory from its origins to the present day. New photographs, maps and plans bring the history of the site to life.

Today, the ruined east wall of the priory church soars dramatically over the remains of the monastic precinct, an impressive landmark in the landscape and a reminder of the priory’s former importance and scale. The priory was founded in about 1119 and richly endowed by the powerful Norman lord Robert I de Brus, ancestor of the 12th-century King of the Scots Robert the Bruce.

In 1289, the priory church was badly damaged by a fire that took hold during works to the roof, and a major rebuilding project resulted in the church that survives in fragments today. Following the English defeat in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, Gisborough’s estates in the north of England were devastated and the priory’s debts built up. It took several decades of wool production by the community – and several generous gifts of money by rich patrons – for the priory’s financial fortunes to improve, but by the time of its suppression by Henry VIII in 1539, Gisborough was the fourth richest religious house in Yorkshire. The splendidly carved Brus Cenotaph, today on view in the parish church, is testament to the priory’s wealth in the years before its closure. The prior who commissioned it in the early 16th century, James Cockerell, opposed Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy and was removed from office, later being executed for his resistance to the king’s break with Rome.

In the wake of the Suppression, many of the priory buildings were destroyed and the site was bought by the Chaloner family, who in the 18th century created a garden in what had been part of the priory’s lands. The east end of the church became a landscape ornament, and has continued to serve as an inspiration for artists, antiquarians and admirers of the Picturesque.

Key Features: 

  • Published: March 2019
  • Paperback
  • 32 pages

Size: 285mm x 160mm
Author: Glyn Coppack and Michael Carter
ISBN: 978 1 910907 33 7

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Guidebook: Gisborough Priory