Happy New Year and good evening (UK time) on this first day of 2022. I want to show you some photos today to transport you back to the 12th Century. Norton Priory can be found close to Runcorn town centre, in Cheshire on the other bank of the River Mersey from Widnes and Liverpool. In telling you about what you are seeing, I could pretend to be a historian and paraphrase someone else’s expertise, but I’d rather merely quote from the Priory’s own website and from Wikipedia stating which source as appropriate.
“Norton Priory Museum & Gardens is one of Cheshire’s hidden gems. Once home to a medieval church, this is the most excavated monastic site in Europe. Visitors can explore the 12th century undercroft with beautiful vaulted ceiling and the priory ruins showing the layout of the medieval buildings. The museum displays thousands of objects discovered at the site, which tell the 900 year history from priory to mansion house and the stories of the people who lived here.” (Norton Priory and Museum website)
“The priory was established as an Augustinian foundation in the 12th century, and was raised to the status of an abbey in 1391. The abbey was closed in 1536, as part of the dissolution of the monasteries. Nine years later the surviving structures, together with the manor of Norton, were purchased by Sir Richard Brooke, who built a Tudor house on the site, incorporating part of the abbey. This was replaced in the 18th century by a Georgian house………it was partially demolished in 1928. In 1966 the site was given in trust for the use of the general public.” (Wikipedia)
“Excavation of the site began in 1971, and became the largest to be carried out by modern methods on any European monastic site. It revealed the foundations and lower parts of the walls of the monastery buildings and the abbey church. The undercroft stands outside the museum building. It is a single-storey structure consisting of seven pairs of bays divided into two compartments, one of four and the other of three bays. It is entered through the portico added to the west front of the country house in 1886 by way of a pair of arched doorways in Norman style.” (Wikipedia)
“The undercroft stands outside the museum building. It is a single-storey structure consisting of seven pairs of bays divided into two compartments, one of four and the other of three bays. It is entered through the portico added to the west front of the country house in 1886 by way of a pair of arched doorways in Norman style.” (Wikipedia)
“The portico leads into the four-bay compartment. This has a tiled floor and contains a medieval-style fireplace. The roof is ribbed vaulted. On the east wall is a two-arched doorway leading to the former cloisters. To the north another archway leads to the three-bay compartment. This also has a tile floor and contains the brick wine bins added in the 1780s. The roof of this compartment has groined vaults.” (Wikipedia)
“At the northern end of the undercroft is the passage known as the outer parlour. This has stone benches on each side and elaborately carved blind arcades above them. The arcades each consist of two groups of four round-headed arches with capitals, free-standing columns and bases that are set on the benches. The capitals and mouldings of the arches are decorated with a variety of carvings, the capitals being predominantly late Romanesque in style and the arches early Gothic. The carvings include depictions of human heads, stiff-leaf foliage and animals.” (Wikipedia)
I hope that you have enjoyed your visit to Cheshire and to Norton Priory’s Undercroft. There is much more to se if you ever visit, including the Museum – and outside are the foundations of the original Priory and some fine walled gardens.
Tomorrow I’ll take you with me on a local walk with just my own words to describe what you see in my photos.
This was the scene as I entered from the gardens.
EXIF data were: I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera with a Pentax 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. The shutter speed was 1/4 seconds @ f/3.5 and 60 mm. The ISO was 400