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Billing; The Priory

In the civil parish of Billing.
In the historic county of Northamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough.
Modern Authority of Northamptonshire.
1974 county of Northamptonshire.
Medieval County of Northamptonshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SP80446184
Latitude 52.24886° Longitude -0.82335°

Billing; The Priory has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are earthwork remains.

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


Embattled medieval manor house, largely rebuilt 1880. Early remains incorporated from C14 and C16. Coursed rubble, Welsh slated roof behind parapet. 2 storeys. South front has C14 blocked window, C16 stone mullioned 4 light lattice casement window in chamfered surround. 2 stone chimney stacks with diagonally set shafts. West pentice bay with straight join to main block. East side reset C14 panel with shield in quatrefoil. Modern north wing. In possession of Longueville family from early C14 to 1688. (Listed Building Report)

The remains of the manor house at Little Billing were misidentified as a priory in 1729 by Messrs. Buck and have also been called a castle. The east end was converted into a farmhouse (Baker).
The owner of the manor house has a circa 1730 print by 'Buck' showing a rambling, castellated building of composite architectural style part ecclesiastical, part domestic. It was quite possibly an early monastic house converted to a fortified manor house. The present house is predominantly modern but retains original fabric probably 14th to 16th century in the south and east faces (F1 FRH 14-FEB-66). (PastScape)

The manor-house, mentioned by Leland, stood immediately north of the church, and some remains of it are incorporated in a modern house on a portion of the site. In Bridges's time part of the house was still standing, 'the first story supported with broad arches and at the south end a turret with a staircase leading up to the leads'. ( Hist, of Northants. i, 409. Buck's view (1729), in which the house is mistakenly called a Cistercian Priory, is reproduced. It is taken from the north, and shows the top of the turret on the south side. The greater length was from east to west, and the broad arches were in the ruined eastern portion. In the yard was a farm-house 'made out of the ruins adjoining the ruinous part'.) Pennant, about 1780, speaks of the 'poor remains' of the mansion of the Longuevilles at Little Billing, ( Journey from Chester to London (ed. 1782), 320) and in 1789 the ruins were described as 'much reduced' in the course of sixty years. (That is since the time of Buck's drawing.) The turret and practically the whole of the east end of the building had then gone, but some portion of the western end was still standing, of two stories, with embattled parapet and large ground-floor bay window on the north side. ( Archaeologia, x, 67; a paper by Richard Gough, with a drawing by a Mr. Schnebbelie taken in 1789. The view is from the north and comparison with Buck's drawing shows the extent of the change. Gough says that 'the turret and all the building west of it had gone', but Schnebbelie's drawing shows that 'east of it' was meant. A large projecting chimney seems to have been an addition after 1729.) These features have in their turn disappeared and such ancient work as still remains is very slight or of a fragmentary character. The older part, which includes a small pointed window on the south side near ground level, may be of 14th-century date, and at the east end in a modern wall is inserted a quatrefoil circle containing a shield inscribed 'pro a a', (Probably one of a series of panels containing an inscription.) apparently of the same period. A four-centred doorway and a mullioned window with rounded lights are probably of the 16th century, but in its present form the house, known locally as the Castle, dates only from 1880. (The old house was restored, or rebuilt, by Lord Overstone in this year. Fragments of ruins adjoining were used in building an outhouse.). (VCH)

Was a battlemented building but there is no suggestion of a moat or enclosure defences.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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