Hitchin Priory, Hertfordshire

Hitchin started out life when King Offa founded a monastery where St. Mary’s Church now stands around the year 792 AD.

The Priory, built initially for the Carmelites was founded in 1317 by Edward II. The Priory survived and prospered until 1539 when Henry VIII came along and dissolved both it and Temple Disney Hospitaller’s Temple.

Ralph Radcliffe was sold the Priory in 1548 and his family lived here until 1963. In the late 1700s the family employed the famed architect Robert Adam to redesign the Priory and we are left today with one of the least known but most characteristic of Robert Adam buildings – particularly when seen from the lawns.

Local legend suggests an underground passage ran between the Priory and St. Mary’s Church, and certainly the buildings along Churchyard all have the remains of medieval arches in their cellars suggesting, for once, an element of truth.

Today Hitchin Priory is a conference centre and training facility.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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