Totnes Priory Church, Devon

Benedictine Monks

The town was founded as a Saxon burh and it is likely that the first church was built here in the 10th Century. Of this nothing now remains. What we see today is based around a church begun in the mid-11th Century.

After the Normans arrived in Totnes the town was granted to Judhael of Totnes who built the Castle and then gave the church to the Benedictines who made it a Priory. As a Priory it grew in importance and was rebuilt in the 12th Century and then completely rebuilt in its present form in the 15th.

Its dual role as Priory and Parish Church saved much of the structure at the time of the Reformation. The Priory Church became solely the Parish Church and the attendant buildings were largely reused as guildhalls and a school, meaning they survived the destruction meted out to many monastic buildings.

The ever present George Gilbert Scott had a hand in enlarging and rebuilding the church in the late 1800s and further work was undertaken in the 1950s. Totnes today is one of Devon’s most pleasant inland towns and the Castle and Priory Church make an excellent day visit.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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