Thetford Priory Gatehouse


Thetford Priory Gatehouse © David Gill

The priory at Thetford, Norfolk was founded in 1103, and moved to the present location in 1107. The 14th century gatehouse lies to the north-west of the priory (in the grounds of private houses). The property is in the care of English Heritage.


Thetford Priory © David Gill


Thetford Priory © David Gill


Celebrating 100 Years of Guides to the National Heritage Collection



2017 marks the centenary of the first guidebooks to what can now be termed the National Heritage Collection. One of the first was written by Sir Charles Peers on St Botolph’s Priory in Colchester and now in the care of English Heritage. The guidebook was reissued as a ‘blue’ guide in 1964.

The 1917 guide include a fold-out plan of the priory inside the back cover. This was prepared by E. Dace Brown in July 1916. The guide was divided into three sections: The Augustinian Rule; History of St Botolph’s Priory; and The Priory Buildings.

Castle Acre: the prior’s lodging


Prior’s lodging, and west end of priory church, Castle Acre Priory © David Gill

The prior’s lodging lies in the northern part of the west range, adjacent to the priory church. The room identified as the prior’s study (or solar) on the first floor is part of a mid-14th extension to the structure.


Prior’s study, Castle Acre Priory © David Gill


Prior’s solar, Castle Acre Priory © David Gill


Prior’s chapel, Castle Acre Priory © David Gill


Prior’s chapel, Castle Acre Priory © David Gill

The prior’s chapel lay on the eastern side of the structure in a part of the building dating to the mid-12th century. Remaining parts of the earliest structure include the arch at the eastern end of the room, over the place where the altar was located. The east window, looking out towards the cloister, dates to c. 1300.


Outer Parlour, Castle Acre Priory © David Gill

On the ground floor, under the prior’s chapel was the outer parlour. This was accessed from outside via a north door, and to the cloister on the east side. The staircase led from here to the prior’s quarters.


Undercroft, Castle Acre Priory © David Gill


Undercroft, Castle Acre Priory © David Gill

The vaulted undercroft lies under the prior’s solar.

Binham Priory: Gatehouse


Binham Priory © David Gill

The gatehouse of Binham Priory lies to the west of the priory church on the edge of the precinct boundary (see English Heritage plan).


Binham Priory © David Gill

Binham Priory: Dorter


Binham Priory © David Gill

The monks’ dorter at Binham Priory lay in the eastern wing, to the south of the warming house (see English Heritage plan). It dated to the 12th century. A reredorter projected to the east. The dorter was placed over the undercroft.


Binham Priory, undercroft (with dorter above) and warming room beyond © David Gill

Access to the dorter was via the day stairs located between the parlour and the chapter house, with access from the eastern side of the cloister.


Binham Priory © David Gill


Binham Priory © David Gill


Binham Priory, parlour and site of day stairs to dorter © David Gill

Reconstructions at Binham Priory


Binham Priory © David Gill

It is sometimes hard to spot where some of the masonry at a heritage site has been restored. At Binham Prory in Norfolk the Ministry placed a sign to show where restoration work had taken place on the supports for the main tower.

Finchale Priory

1987 [1989]

1987 [1989]

Heritage guides can have a long life. Some of the best examples are those written by A.J. Taylor for Caernarfon, Beaumaris and Conway castles. The guidebook for Finchale Priory was written by Sir Charles Peers, Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments, in 1933. It appeared as an English Heritage guide in 1984, revised in 1987, and reprinted in 1989. The guide follows the standard format of History (pp. 4-70, and Description and Tour (pp. 10-15). There is a plan in text (pp. 8-9). There are a limited number of black and white photographs.

This guidebook (1989) also notes the sponsorship of Gateway Foodmarkets Ltd. (see Longthorpe Tower).