Blyth Priory Church, Nottinghamshire

Benedictine Monks

The first Priory at Blyth was founded in 1088 by Roger de Builli as an ‘alien’ house under Benedictine rule. Because the Priory was a so-called ‘alien house’ under control of St. Katherine’s Abbey in Rouen it was subject to a number of strict laws, particularly during times of war with France when the Priory would come under Royal control. If this inconvenience was not enough, it was considered by the monks at Rouen that a posting to Blyth Priory was a punishment as the Priory was notorious for its cold and wet conditions. However, sending the monastic miscreants from Rouen to Blyth had a tendency to make this a house of some poor reputation and the monks became well known for their lax behaviour.

In 1409 the alien priory was dissolved (within a few years an Act of Parliament would ban all alien priories in England) but it was refounded immediately afterwards as an independent Benedictine Priory under direct English rule.

It seems that at the time of refounding the church and buildings were completed renovated. Most of the structures surviving in the church today date from the 13th and 14th centuries, with the tower being a late 15th century addition.

Henry VIII arrived in 1536 and the Priory was closed for good. The church became the parish church for the town and the non-ecclesiastical buildings of the Priory were allowed to fall into ruin. A house was built into the cloister ruins but this was demolished in 1670 and a new house was built which only retained the cellar of the Priory… this in turn was demolished in the 1970s and the site is now a small housing estate clustered right up against the northern side of the church which still performs the function of the parish church for Blyth.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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