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Hexham Priory

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
St Wilfrid's Gateway

In the civil parish of Hexham.
In the historic county of Northumberland.
Modern Authority of Northumberland.
1974 county of Northumberland.
Medieval County of Northumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY93516409
Latitude 54.97158° Longitude -2.10257°

Hexham Priory has been described as a probable Fortified Ecclesiastical site.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Former Augustinian Priory. Originally founded by St Wilfrid circa 673 - the crypt dates this period. The choir, transepts and tower are circa 1180; the nave was burnt 1296 and rebuilt in 1908 by Temple Moor. Much recent restoration. Embattled crossing tower. 5 bay aisled chancel, the easternmost taken down and rebuilt slightly higher circa 1858; fragments of possibly late-Saxon apse below. 3 bay transepts with eastern aisles. South bay of south transept has slype with gallery to night stairs above. 6 bay nave, Exterior uniformly early English, apart from decorated tracery of nave windows. Lancets, corbel table etc. Interior also chiefly Early Englih, much restored and altered. Wooden ceiling, vaulted aisles, with dado arcades, to transepts and chancel. High stilted arches on west wall of north transept with clustered shafts. 2 chantries - to Prior Ogle (d.1410), and to Prior Leschman (1480-91), the latter with a cowled effigy and much rude stone sculpture. Early C15 sedilia with painted panels, including the dance of death. Delicate Rood Screen (1491-1523) with panel painting and rich woodwork. Misericords in stalls. Font at west end of nave with, for base, part of a pilier cantonne from the north transept with a dog tooth central shaft. Interior also contains several monuments: relief of a Roman standard bearer; St Acca's Cross (C7), cross base with Crucifixion from the Spital, the Frith Stool, or St Wilfrid's chair and various fragments built in the nave walls. (Listed Building Report)
The Priory gatehouse
Circa 1160. Former 2 storey ashlar gatehouse now a 3 bay arched gateway. Upper storey and vaults destroyed in early C19 for picturesque effect. Wall ribs and corbels remain. Round arches spanning road, gateway to west. Piers to 1st bay from north. (Listed Building Report)

The church at Hexham was built in AD674-8 by St Wilfrid, the Bishop of York. It was dedicated to St Andrew and became a cathedral in 681. The stone chair in which the bishop would have sat can still be seen in the chancel. After 821 the bishop moved to Lindisfarne and the church became the centre of a monastery. However, in 875 many of the buildings were destroyed by Viking raids. Little remains of this Anglo-Saxon church, though the crypt built by St Wilfrid is still visible. In 1113 the monastery was refounded by Augustinian monks. A strong gatehouse was built in the mid-12th century and a new church begun in 1189. The church was sacked by Scottish raiders in 1296. The monastery was abolished in 1536 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when it became the parish church of Hexham. The nave of the present church was built in the late 19th century. (Keys to the Past)

Important medieval priory suggested as defensible. The Gatehouse of c. 1160 partly survives but does not seem to have been anything more than the usual monastic gatehouse (It has a large arched opening with no suggestion of a portcullis, draw bar holes or any other defensive features) and it absolutely certain that the monastery had no idea it would be attacked at the end of the C13 when the gatehouse was built in the peaceful mid C12.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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