Castle Acre Part Two: The Priory

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Following the Norman Conquest, the new owner of the lands in this area brought over some monks to provide spiritual support for the community. They were members of the Cluniac order, and arrived in 1080. He gave them some lands next to the river, and some money to build a priory. This would originally have been a wooden construction. In 1089, more money was given for a stone building, and construction began. It was not ready for occupation until 1160, with the monks essentially living on site, as the building continued around them.

You can see the proximity to the village across the fields, and the imposing church of St James The Great, which wasn’t constructed until the 14th century.

Once completed, it contained an impressive church, accommodation for the Prior and his monks, and continued to be developed over the next two hundred years, as more donations were received from benefactors.

The gatehouse would have been the only entrance, and heavy doors would have secured against unwanted visitors.

When Henry VIII was on the throne, in the 1530s, he ordered the dissolution of all monasteries, and their destruction too. All that remained was the Prior’s house, which was occupied until the 17th century by new owners. It has since been renovated, and houses the visitor centre, and new entrance to the ruins.

Since 1984, the site has been managed by English Heritage. It is well-signposted, and a very short walk from the village. It is open most days from 10 am until 5 pm, and there is an entrance fee of £7.30 for adults, which includes an audio device. Parking outside is free of charge, and there is a shop and picnic area, but no cafe. Dogs are allowed on leads, but not inside the exhibitions.

This is an historically important site, and combined with a visit to the nearby castle and village, makes Castle Acre a great place as a destination.

47 thoughts on “Castle Acre Part Two: The Priory

  1. The would be wonderful places to sit and meditate and to enjoy the peace and solitude of the surroundings. I would venture to guess that such places also give rise to deep reflections that would serve the intent of literary authors very well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are right, John. On days when there are few tourists, the whole area feels peaceful, and remote. Yet it is only a couple of miles from a busy market town. One of the joys of the English countryside. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.


  2. I especially like the third photo—the one with the vaults. Amazing how they’ve held up all these centuries! I’ve only been to a handful of castle ruins such as these—in France. Mostly, I’ve visited well preserved French châteaux.

    I enlarged the photos in search of bubble gum wrappers left by tourists. Just kidding, but I did enjoy the search!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. All the British Isles castles amaze me to no end. I’ve often dreamed of restoring some smaller remains somewhere. I gotta think, even if they are barely a pile of rubble now, the land which it resides must cost a lot of money, Demand must be high for these old places.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most are in public ownership, or managed by charitable institutions. But very occasionally old castles do come up for sale, especially in Scotland. trouble is, they come with all sorts of planning and building restrictions, that make living in them almost impossible. Here is one you can actually stay in though, and it has its own beach!
      Best wishes, Pete.


  4. I really enjoyed these two posts Pete. As I said I’m a history buff, and I always like finding out more about the past, especially the middle ages. Fraggle does a lot of these kinds of posts as well: and the are always a fun read/watch.
    Terrific pictures once again, and thanks for the history lesson 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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