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From the archives: Looking back at the life and times of Great Yarmouth’s Priory

PUBLISHED: 15:27 07 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:27 07 October 2020

Mayor and Mayoress of Great Yarmouth visit The Priory school where Mr Jack Bishop ( Mayor ) was a pupil over 50 years ago pic taken 28th april 1975 
m32763-21 pic to be used in lets talk june 2018

Mayor and Mayoress of Great Yarmouth visit The Priory school where Mr Jack Bishop ( Mayor ) was a pupil over 50 years ago pic taken 28th april 1975 m32763-21 pic to be used in lets talk june 2018

Santa sits in his tinsel-trimmed grotto, men with pony tails sup foaming pints, and ladies bend and stretch all together, moving to some unheard soundtrack.

Father Christmas at the 99p store in Yarmouth. The store are giving away 500 presents to a local charity this christmas.
Santa with Julie Staff who runs the Priory centre 'grotto'Father Christmas at the 99p store in Yarmouth. The store are giving away 500 presents to a local charity this christmas. Santa with Julie Staff who runs the Priory centre 'grotto'

A flick through this newspaper’s picture archive reveals the many and varied community uses that have gone on over the years at Great Yarmouth’s historic Priory.

They feature the kind of joyous gatherings that are unthinkable in the current Covid era - but whether anything like that will ever resume there remains uncertain.

Now up for sale with a price tag of £150,000 many have bemoaned its sad demise and expressed a wish for it to be saved for the town.

The Grade I-listed priory, part of St Nicholas Minster, shut at the end of last year with the collapse of the Community Trust.

The Priory Centre, Yarmouth
Photo: Andy Darnell
Copy: 
For: EDP Sunday back page.
Archant © 2008 (01603) 772434The Priory Centre, Yarmouth Photo: Andy Darnell Copy: For: EDP Sunday back page. Archant © 2008 (01603) 772434

It is now being sold by the liquidators.

Starting life as a religious building its great hall welcomed Richard II, and countless other ordinary citizens since.

Over the years it has been extended and remodelled - but the hall has always been at its heart.

Our pictures span multiple eras from its days as a school when assemblies and school dinners were hosted there, and track a range of uses from keep fit, to beer festivals, art gallery, fundraising sale room, fathers’ group and club meeting room.

Priory School reunion at Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth. Class photo from 1952.Priory School reunion at Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth. Class photo from 1952.

MORE: ‘Atmospheric’ 900-year-old priory up for sale for same price as three-bedroom semi

One of the last social gatherings due to go ahead before it closed was a Slimming World group - an A-board at the door announced.

Historian Michael Boon said great care needed to be taken over what happened next.

He said it was part of the Minster and should be saved for the town as one of its oldest buildings that has given stirling service for 900 years.

“You would not expect a piece of the town wall to come up for sale,” he said.

Priory School reunion at Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth. Old class photographs.Priory School reunion at Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth. Old class photographs.

“This is a piece of Yarmouth’s history. I do not like to think that any decisions would be taken in haste.

“Heritage is something you cannot get back once it’s gone.

“There are 900 years of history there.

“Yarmouth has to look after what it has got.”

Launch of the Great Yarmouth Beer & Cider Festival 2010 at the Priory Centre.
Close up magician

Picture: James Bass
For: EDP/GYM News
Eastern Daily Press © 2010  (01603) 772434Launch of the Great Yarmouth Beer & Cider Festival 2010 at the Priory Centre. Close up magician Picture: James Bass For: EDP/GYM News Eastern Daily Press © 2010 (01603) 772434

The Priory is reckoned among the top 5pc of historic buildings in the country and is being sold by Arnolds Keys in Norwich who say there has been interest in residential and community uses.

10th edition of Ageless opportunites directory launched at the Priory Centre in Great Yarmouth.

Picture: James Bass10th edition of Ageless opportunites directory launched at the Priory Centre in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

Launch of the Great Yarmouth Beer & Cider Festival 2010 at the Priory Centre.

Picture: James Bass
For: EDP/GYM News
Eastern Daily Press © 2010  (01603) 772434Launch of the Great Yarmouth Beer & Cider Festival 2010 at the Priory Centre. Picture: James Bass For: EDP/GYM News Eastern Daily Press © 2010 (01603) 772434

Charlotte Wych (92) exhibiting her artwork at the Priory Centre in Great Yarmouth.
Her son is well known Norfolk painter Bruer Tidman 
Pictured next to a portrait study of her painted in 1983 when she was 66 yrs old

Picture: James Bass
Copy: Tony Carroll
For: EDP News
Eastern Daily Press © 2008  (01603) 772434Charlotte Wych (92) exhibiting her artwork at the Priory Centre in Great Yarmouth. Her son is well known Norfolk painter Bruer Tidman Pictured next to a portrait study of her painted in 1983 when she was 66 yrs old Picture: James Bass Copy: Tony Carroll For: EDP News Eastern Daily Press © 2008 (01603) 772434

Launch of the Great Yarmouth Beer & Cider Festival 2010 at the Priory Centre.
Mayor of Great Yarmouth Councillor Michael Jeal

Picture: James Bass
For: EDP/GYM News
Eastern Daily Press © 2010  (01603) 772434Launch of the Great Yarmouth Beer & Cider Festival 2010 at the Priory Centre. Mayor of Great Yarmouth Councillor Michael Jeal Picture: James Bass For: EDP/GYM News Eastern Daily Press © 2010 (01603) 772434

The Great Yarmouth Fathers Project at the Priory Childrens Centre. 
Dads enjoying mixing with other dads and entertaining the children.

Picture: James BassThe Great Yarmouth Fathers Project at the Priory Childrens Centre. Dads enjoying mixing with other dads and entertaining the children. Picture: James Bass

10th edition of Ageless opportunites directory launched at the Priory Centre in Great Yarmouth.

Picture: James Bass

10th edition of Ageless opportunites directory launched at the Priory Centre in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

Fun, fitness sessions for all the family are being staged at Great Yarmouth's Priory CentreFun, fitness sessions for all the family are being staged at Great Yarmouth's Priory Centre

Priory School reunion at Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth. Colin Brown (front) with former pupils.Priory School reunion at Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth. Colin Brown (front) with former pupils.

EVACUATION AND EDUCATION: Great Yarmouth Priory School pupils (and teachers?) outside their Retford school buildings in 1940. The picture was taken for an EB Saunders (in 1937 an Ernest Bernard Saunders lived in Blake Road, Yarmouth). It is one of 20,000 taken between 1910 and 1960 by Retford photographers Edgar Welchman & Son, now in a special collection in a local museum.
Picture: BASSETLAW MUSEUM.EVACUATION AND EDUCATION: Great Yarmouth Priory School pupils (and teachers?) outside their Retford school buildings in 1940. The picture was taken for an EB Saunders (in 1937 an Ernest Bernard Saunders lived in Blake Road, Yarmouth). It is one of 20,000 taken between 1910 and 1960 by Retford photographers Edgar Welchman & Son, now in a special collection in a local museum. Picture: BASSETLAW MUSEUM.

Local author Michael Boon who has released a book about the Priory and Parish Church of St Nicholas Great Yarmouth.
Picture: SubmittedLocal author Michael Boon who has released a book about the Priory and Parish Church of St Nicholas Great Yarmouth. Picture: Submitted

Sandy Lysaght (right) with Jacky Honour (left) at a fundraiser at the Priory Centre to raise money for Greengrow, a community farm near Beccles. 
Sandy went to Berry Farm near Beccles with her children through Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Surestart Centre. 

Picture: James BassSandy Lysaght (right) with Jacky Honour (left) at a fundraiser at the Priory Centre to raise money for Greengrow, a community farm near Beccles. Sandy went to Berry Farm near Beccles with her children through Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Surestart Centre. Picture: James Bass

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