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Lanercost Priory

In the civil parish of Burtholme.
In the historic county of Cumberland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Cumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY55456373
Latitude 54.96596° Longitude -2.69509°

Lanercost Priory has been described as a Fortified Ecclesiastical site although is doubtful that it was such.

There are major building remains.

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


The now partly ruined Lanercost Priory was founded circa 1166 by Robert de Vaux. Edward I visited the priory on three occasions in 1280, 1300, and again in 1306-7 when he was taken ill and remained for six months until his recovery. In between Edward's earlier visits the Scots ransacked the priory in 1296 when they burned the cloister. No sooner had the damage been repaired than it was destroyed again the following year by Scots under the leadership of William Wallace. Documentary sources indicate considerable building work was undertaken at the priory during Edward's convalescence when the royal entourage of up to 200 people had to be accommodated. In 1346 King David II of Scotland ransacked the buildings and desecrated the church. The priory was rebuilt but many of the estates had to be sold to meet the costs of this work. Lanercost Priory was dissolved in 1537 under the orders of Henry VIII and the buildings were granted to Sir Thomas Dacre who made alterations and converted some of the monastic buildings, including Dacre Hall, into a dwelling house by 1559. The north aisle of the church was shut off from the rest and used as a parish church, while a parsonage was built for the vicar to the west of the 13th century tower. The remainder of the monastic buildings were allowed to fall into decay. In 1716 the ruins of the priory passed to the crown upon the death of the Lanercost Dacres. About 1740 it was decided to enlarge the space used by the parish church by restoring the nave. In 1896 the priory was purchased by the Earl of Carlisle. Throughout the 20th century various parts of the priory have been placed in the guardianship of the Secretary of State. (PastScape)

An Augustinian monastery, founded circa 1166 and dissolved in 1537. The surviving remains are mainly early C13. The priory's church nave is still in use as a church. Gateway arch of gate house survives as ruin. Brooke writes priory ruins not particular defensive but attacked on several occasions and used as a refuge. However, the prior's lodging may have formed part of a more defensive set of caustral buildings prior to it's alteration into a pele tower post reformation. As with every monastery will have had some precinct boundary with impressive gateways (the arch of a ruinous gatehouse survives) although these are not usually described as 'defensive'.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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