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Remains of 12th century priory in North Norfolk draw visitors

PUBLISHED: 10:49 27 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:49 27 June 2017

Visitors queuing to see the ruins of Bromholm Priory on its open day. Pictures: Maurice Gray

Visitors queuing to see the ruins of Bromholm Priory on its open day. Pictures: Maurice Gray

Archant

It’s an impressive site that is rarely open to the public.

Bromholm Priory open day. David Siely with a print of the original priory. Picture: Maurice Gray Bromholm Priory open day. David Siely with a print of the original priory. Picture: Maurice Gray

Amateur historians enjoyed a rare visit to the extensive remains of a Cluniac priory that was founded in the 12th century.

Bromholm Priory, near Bacton in north Norfolk, is on private land and is not often open to the public.

Members of the Bacton and district history group were at the scene on the weekend to tell visitors about its history.

The one-off open day encouraged a flock of enthusiasts to queue to get a closer look at the remains of the priory, which now overlook Bacton Primary School.

Bromholm Priory open day. Kurtis Gale and Jo Arnold with visitors. Pictures: Maurice Gray Bromholm Priory open day. Kurtis Gale and Jo Arnold with visitors. Pictures: Maurice Gray

The group’s chairman Kurtis Gale said he was amazed at the number of visitors.

He said: “It was lovely to see people of all ages showing great interest in the remains of a priory which holds so much history.

“We thank the landowner for allowing us the privilege of sharing some of that history which has been standing for many hundreds of years.”

Group secretary Jo Arnold was kept busy explaining the history of the priory to visitors and David Siely showed off an old picture of the original priory, which was on display.

The priory was founded in 1113 by William de Glanville, Lord of Bacton, and was originally subordinate to Castle Acre Priory.

It was suppressed in 1536 and all that now remains are the ruins of the gatehouse, chapter house, and the northern transept of the Priory church.

The site was an important object of pilgrimage as it claimed to possess a piece of the True Cross, mentioned as the ‘holy cross of Bromeholme’ in Chaucer’s The Reeve’s Tale and William Langland’s Vision of Piers Plowman.

It is said the cross brought prosperity to Bromholm when it arrived in 1223 and rumours suggested that divine miracles began to occur. Up to 19 blind men are said to have had their sight restored and 39 men were raised from the dead by the power of the cross. Due to the priory’s wardship of the cross, a considerable enlargement of the building took place in the 13th century.

The priory was a benefice of the Paston family and is featured in their letters.

In 1940 the base of the central tower of the priory church was modified to act as a pillbox in case of German invasion.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the history group, email bactonhistory@yahoo.com

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