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Description: Finchale Priory
Date Listed: 10 May 1967
English Heritage Building ID: 110009
OS Grid Reference: NZ2964347130
OS Grid Coordinates: 429643, 547130
Latitude/Longitude: 54.8182, -1.5402
There is also a scheduled monument with a similar name, Finchale Priory Benedictine Cell: Hermitage, Monastic Precinct and Site of Priory Watermill, at the same location as this building or very close to it. This is probably the same structure or related to it in some way.
FRAMWELLGATE MOOR FINCHALE AVENUE
NZ 24 NE
(North side, off)
2/19 Finchale Priory
Ruins of priory, daughter house of Durham, incorporating hermitage of St.
Godric. Earliest surviving structures are c.1196, erected for accommodation
while principal ranges were erected. Main buildings from c.1237 until late
C13, when the earlier buildings were also extended. Church completed c.1277.
Circa 1364 church aisles demolished, except for that on south of nave which
became north cloister walk, arcades blocked and windows inserted; small
addition to north-east of church; cloisters altered. Also C14 are frater and
building to north-west of cloister. C15 addition of kitchen to south-east of
cloister linking with prior's lodgings, which were altered and extended.
Coursed sandstone rubble with plinth and ashlar dressings; no roof survives.
Plan of first buildings shows hall with screens; north solar; large cross
wing added to solar; passage to east of solar leads to garderobe. Church
plan has 4-bay nave, 5-bay quire, presbytery and vestry, with aisles removed;
transepts with east chapel on north; crossing tower. Cloister south of nave:
east range has chapter house adjacent to south transept, then slype and
various storage rooms, all with dorter on first floor of which only gables
survive. South range has frater-with undercroft; slype at east end. West
has high blank wall and small square building at north. To south-east,
reredorter adjoins east range; north of this and at higher level kitchens
link to Prior's lodgings which are parallel to church and have hall, camera,
study and chapel with undercrofts.
First buildings survive to a height of a few courses, and are domestic rather
than ecclesiastical in character. Church: wide west door below 3 lancets of
which heads are lost. North walls survive to level of heads of moulded
2-centred arches of arcade, the blocking enclosing original columns and
containing windows with reticulated tracery, dated to 1364, only that in the
quire surviving complete. Other walls survive to below this level. Buttresses,
clasping at corners. Interior shows nave piers alternately round and octagonal,
with moulded plinths and capitals; quire and presbytery have 3 north arches,
the easternmost with capital revealed to show finely-carved acanthus leaves,
crockets and pine cones. Interior shows double-shafted blind tracery to large
east window splays; window head removed. Aumbry in north and piscina and
sedilia in south presbytery walls. Foundations of earlier Chapel of St.
Godric, with site of his tomb, within presbytery. Some plaster with geometric
painting survives on piers. Massive round crossing piers, with newel stair
in north-west. North transept has 2 west lancets; on east, a small C14 door
between blocked 2-centred-arched door to chapel, and similar window with
Decorated tracery, each with altar below. South transept, former Lady Chapel,
has altar below large east window.
Cloistral ranges: East: chapter house has dripmoulds over wide central door
flanked by large windows; interior shows stepped stone wall benches along 3
sides, with stone arms to Prior's seat at centre east: south end of range
subdivided by C15 walls into storage rooms and large south room of unknown
function, without windows. South range has 3-storey west part to same height
as 2-storey east part which was raised to 3 storeys; steps up to moulded
2-centred-arched doorway of 2 orders leading to cloister garth from west bay;
mouchettes in window above. 4 north lancets to cloister, 2 in west gable and
5 in south wall, with square windows to undercroft and to added storey, of
which only part survives. Steps down to 2-centred-arched, doors to undercroft
at centres of north and east elevations. Interior shows undercroft has rib
vaulting resting on keeled shafts and quatrefoil piers without capitals, some
with plain plaster surviving. In west bay of frater a fireplace at south end
of west wall has plain stone lintel; a central stone-hooded fireplace above has
shafted corbels; C15 divisions in west bays. West range has high blank wall,
with C13 door at north end leading to buttressed C14 undercroft of building of
unknown function; excavation suggests other buildings existed on this range,
perhaps guest accommodation, since blank to cloister. Interior of north-west
building shows vault with 6 square ribs springing from central octagonal pier.
Cloister walks show C13 bases of paired shafts on south, and C14 windows
surviving only to sill level on east and west. North walk has one filleted
shaft on north face, unrelated to present structure. Reredorter has natural
rock floor and shows no drain, only a clearance arch at east. Corbels for
pent roof, close-set on south. Prior's lodgings: east-west range has vaulted
undercrofts except for barrel vault at east end; some vaulting survives, with
chamfered ribs on filleted shafts. Shouldered heads to 2 doors in south wall,
and to one in west wall of chapel which projects to south. Buttressed east
wall of chapel has plain door and window to undercroft; 3-light window above
with some Decorated tracery. East elevation of camera has dripmould over
high-2-centred-arched window with cusped tracery; C15 stair-turret to north.
Study to north of this has 2 two-light windows, one with lancet heads and one
with segmental heads; C15 garderobes. North elevation of study shows buttressed
oriel window. Interior shows 2 west undercrofts had ribbed vaulting with
filleted shafts; barrel vault in 2 eastern bays, with part of tiled floor
The history of the site begins with St. Godric living there from 1115 until
his death in 1170, when the buildings became the property of the Prior of the
Convent of Durham (Benedictine). In 1196 it was granted to Hugh Puiset, son
of Bishop le Puiset, in return for the closing of his Augustinian Canons'
foundation, (a daughter house of Guisborough) called New Place on the River
Browney; he then granted Finchale to the Durham house, and at the same time
granted to the Prior and Convent of Durham the right to elect the Prior of
Finchale. After this the first surviving buildings were erected; these are
a rare example of such structures.
Sources: C.R. Peers, 'Finchale Priory' in Archaeologia Aeliana, 4. IV, 1927,
C.R. Peers, Finchale Priory, H.B.M.C. official guide, 1984, first
Surtees Society VI, 1837 II, 'The Priory of Finchale'.
A schedule ancient monument.
Listing NGR: NZ2964447123
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.