Prittlewell Priory, Southend-on-Sea, England

Prittlewell Priory: Prior’s Chamber
Publisher/Photo: Trade Studio

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Houses of Cluniac monks: Priory of Prittlewell

Prittlewell Priory was founded by the Cluniac Order in the early 12th century as a cell to the Priory of St Pancras at Lewes, Sussex. It was one of the lesser monasteries housing not more than 18 monks. In 1536 much of the building was destroyed and what remained was much altered during the 18th Century. Alterations were made again in the early 20th Century, when the Refectory was restored and partly rebuilt. A number of original features do survive, including a 12th Century doorway with chevron and dog tooth ornamentation.

After the Dissolution the Priory was a private residence and it was granted to Lord Chancellor Audley, who conveyed it to Robert, son of Lord Rich. It afterwards passed with the manor to various families. The last family to live there, the 19th Century Scrattons, are explored in an exhibition inside the house. In 1917 the building was purchased by Robert Jones, and in May 1922 it opened as Southend’s first museum.
Southend Museums

Southends on sea is a rather built up area today and as far as history goes it is not that old. However not far from Southends town centre lies a park which has been around for 900 years and is the oldest building in Southend which has been continually occupied. Prittlewell Priory has existed since the 12th Century and the land, which now makes up the park, was once all owned and managed by the Clunic monk s who resided there, mainly, in silence. Only parts of the original priory exist today in the form of a very small but informative museum. The Priory grounds are still accessible to all members of the public including the ponds which the Monks used to fish themselves, the refectory, priory chamber, cellar, a 12th century doorway with chevron and dog tooth ornamentation and parts of the wall.
For The Love Of History

The first religious building at Prittlewell, a small wooden oratory, was replaced by a stone church around 1150. This was partly excavated in the 1920s and its outline, 50m-60m in length with an apsidal chancel and side chapels to the south, can still be traced from exposed sections of the foundations which remain on display within the lawns to the north east of the museum. The priory range was enlarged from 1180 onwards with the refectory, chapter house, dorter (monks’ dormitory) and other buildings arranged around the cloister garth at this time. The Priory Museum (a Grade I Listed Building which is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included) retains substantial elements of the priory range – principally the 12th century refectory and 14th century prior’s chambers which, respectively, formed parts of the southern and western arms of the claustral range. The 14th century prior’s chamber, built from local septaria and chalk rubble (mostly refaced with brick in the 19th century) retains an original crown post roof and overlies earlier cellars.
Historic England

Venetian Bridge, Clacton-on-Sea, England

The Bridge, Clacton-on-Sea

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Clacton-on-Sea is the largest town in the Tendring peninsula and district in Essex, eastern England, and was founded as an urban district in 1871. . . . In 1871 the Essex railway engineer and land developer Peter Bruff, the steamboat owner William Jackson, and a group of businessmen built a pier and the Royal Hotel (now converted to flats) on a stretch of farmland adjoining low gravelly cliffs and a firm sand-and-shingle beach near the villages of Great and Little Clacton. The town of Clacton-on-Sea was officially incorporated in 1872 and laid out rather haphazardly over the next few years: though it has a central ‘grand’ avenue (originally Electric Parade, now Pier Avenue) the street plan incorporates many previously rural lanes and tracks, such as Wash Lane. Plots and streets were sold off piecemeal to developers and speculators. In 1882 the Great Eastern Railway already serving the well-established resort of Walton-on-the-Naze along the coast, built a spur to Clacton-on-Sea with a junction at Thorpe-le-Soken. Clacton grew into the largest seaside resort between Southend-on-Sea and Great Yarmouth, with some 10,000 residents by 1914 and approx. 20,000 by 1939.

The bridge crosses Pier Gap that leads down to the pier from the town. It was built in 1914 to provide pedestrian access from the seaside attractions on the cliff on one side of the gap to the other.

St Botolph’s Priory, Colchester, England, UK

Colchester Abbey
Publisher: Christian Novels Publishing Co.

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As can be seen from its ruins in the picture, there was once a considerable early Norman Church here. St Botolph’s Priory was founded in the late 11th century as the first British house of the Augustinian Canons. The church was built of rubble and also Roman bricks, brought from nearby Roman ruins in Colchester.
British Library: Inside View of St Botolph’s Priory at Colchester in Essex.

Founded about 1100, St Botolph’s was one of the first Augustinian priories in England. An impressive example of early Norman architecture, built in flint and reused Roman brick, the church displays massive circular pillars, round arches and an elaborate west front. It was badly damaged by cannon fire during the Civil War siege of 1648.
English Heritage

St. Botolph’s Priory was a medieval house of Augustinian canons in Colchester, Essex, founded c. 1093. The priory had the distinction of being the first and leading Augustinian convent in England until its dissolution in 1536. . . . The priory was dissolved in accordance with the Act of 1536. On 26 May in that year it was granted with all its possessions, including the manors of Blindknights, Canwikes and Dilbridge to Sir Thomas Audley. Audley had licence on 12 September 1540, to grant the site of the priory to John Golder and Anastasia his wife.

As the priory had been an Augustinian house, and therefore the church had both parochial and conventual functions, the nave was retained as a parish church. The choir, which had been solely for the use of the canons, was not spared however, and was demolished along with the cloisters, chapter house and associated buildings. The church remained this way until the Siege of Colchester in 1648 during the Second English Civil War.[6] A Royalist army had seized the town, which was then surrounded and bombarded by the New Model Army led by Thomas Fairfax, with St Botolph’s being caught in the crossfire of the assault on South Gate, reducing it to its present ruinous state.

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 2 (1907) “Houses of Austin canons: Priory of St Botolph, Colchester”

Hadleigh Castle, Essex

Hadleigh Castle
Postmarked 1906
Publisher: Hildesheimer & Co, London

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Engligh Heritage: plan & recreation

In 1215 King John gave land at Hadleigh to de Burgh, one of his most trusted advisors and custodian of Windsor Castle and Dover Castle. During the childhood of John’s heir, Henry III, Hubert was the de facto ruler of England, and he poured money into Hadleigh Castle as a statement of his wealth and power. Unfortunately, de Burgh quarrelled with the king in 1239, and he was forced to cede all his lands, including Hadleigh, to the crown.
Britain Express

Edward III was the first king to see the strategic importance of Hadleigh Castle – it was ideally situated as a base for defending the Thames estuary against French raids during the Hundred Years War. Edward’s claim to the French throne had led to war with France. The need for a more systematic defence of the Thames estuary led the king to refurbish and extend Hadleigh Castle and to build Queenborough Castle on the opposite Kent shore. Hadleigh became a favourite retreat for the ageing king. There are excavated foundations of the most important part of the castle – the great hall. It had a serving room at the end and beyond it a private withdrawing room, or solar.

Edward III’s successors took little interest in the castle as a residence. After being leased to a succession of tenants, the castle was sold to Lord Riche in 1551, who sold it off as building materials. During the demolition, a tiled hearth was built into the floor of the hall in order to melt down the valuable window leads.
English Heritage

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Eridge Castle, Eridge Park, East Sussex

Eridge Castle near Royal Tunbride Wells
Publisher: Valentine

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Eridge Place (as it was then known) was part of an estate that claims to have the oldest enclosed deer park in England, mentioned in the Doomsday Book. The original house was probably a small manor house built when the Nevill family inherited the estate in 1448. . . . The 16th Baron, in 1724, abandoned the house for his new seat at Kidbrooke Park and Eridge was allowed to deteriorate until Henry Nevill, now the 2nd Earl of Abergavenny, decided to make Eridge the main family seat and began rebuilding the house in 1787. The 2nd Earl embraced the fashionable ‘Gothic-Revival’ style exemplified by Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill. He employed the architect James Wyatt who, with John Nash, was one of the leaders of the Gothic Revival movement. At Eridge he seized the opportunity to build in this grand style and produced a house built around a quadrangle proudly sporting various towers, battlements and pinnacles. This exerburant theme was carried through into the interior with a wealth of fine detail which some thought looked rather ecclesiastical. The work continued out into the parkland with new vistas, walks and carriage ways. . . Eridge Castle was demolished in 1937 by the Nevill family and replaced by a modern house.
Lost Heritage: England’s lost country houses

During the C17 and up to the late C18 the principal seat of the Abergavenny family was at Kidbrook, West Sussex (qv). It was not until 1792, when the second Earl of Abergavenny (1755-1843) decided to make Eridge the family seat, that a designed landscape park was laid out. He intended Eridge to be a model village and estate and rebuilt the cottages in a distinctive estate style. The park was further enlarged during his lifetime (by 1822 the park extended to 2000 acres (c 810ha)) and an extensive picturesque landscape with follies and plantations was laid out. By 1827, ‘the extent of plantations which has been made, combined with a happy diversity of ground, now decorates a wide extent of country’ (Ackerman 1827). The second Earl is said to have been advised on his improvement scheme by his father-in-law John Robinson, a keen planter.
Historic England

Colchester Castle, Essex

Colchester Castle
Postmarked 1906 or 1908
Publisher: Woolstone Bros, Londond

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Construction of the castle began in 1076, probably under the supervision of Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester who built the White Tower at London. William I ordered a stone castle on the strategic route between East Anglia and London. Due to a lack of local quality stone, the Norman builders plundered Roman Colchester to build their keep. The Normans built the castle over the ruined Roman Temple of Claudius, built when Colchester was the first Roman capital of Britain. They incorporated the base of the temple into the foundations of the great tower.

Colchester and the White Tower in London were built to a similar plan, both with an apsidal extension. However, Colchester’s corner turrets are more pronounced and its main staircase is the largest diameter newel staircase in Britain, measuring 5 metres across. It is thought that the castle was originally single-storey, as it is still possible to see traces of crenellations in the wall. It could be that during construction it was required to be defended at short notice and was hurriedly crenellated, and then when the danger had passed, work on the other floors was restarted.
Colchester + Ipswich Museums

The castle was in dire condition after the end of the [civil war, and in 1683 it was sold to John Weeley, who planned to tear it down and sell the stone as building material. Fortunately, his plan proved uneconomic, and destruction was stopped, but only after much of the upper storey had been pulled down. Rescue was at hand, for in 1727 an antiquarian and lawyer named Charles Gray was given the castle as a wedding gift. Gray began the process of restoring the building, and created an area of parkland surrounding the ruined keep. This parkland later became Castle Garden. On Gray’s death the castle site was sold to the Corporation of Colchester. In 1860 the Corporation moved its collection of historic artefacts to the castle crypt, and opened it to the public. This was the castle’s beginning of a new life as a museum of local history, a role it fulfils today.
Britain Express

It was this Eudo Dapifer who is thought to have built the Norman castle we now see at Colchester, being ordered, perhaps, or expected, by William to erect one. It was an immense tower or keep, by far the largest of all Norman keeps in England, measuring 155 feet by 113, whereas the White Tower of  London is but 116 by 96. . . . It stands somewhat towards the N.E. corner inside the Roman wall, and is built chiefly of Roman bricks and tiles from the ancient town with bands of stonework, and it is founded on the original gravel without any mound. The plan is the familiar one of the four projecting corner turrets or buttresses, with a chapel apse, and originally it perhaps hail another storey, which would add much to its stateliness. There was, of course, the castle and an outer or nether bailey, but of these no vestiges can be seen. The remains of the Roman wall on the E. N. and W. sides enclose an area known as the inner bailey. These ancient walls are reveted with an earthen slope on each side, that on the N. being 40 feet in height.
“The Castles of England: their story and structure, Vol 1”, James D. Mackenzie, 1897, p 258

“Mediæval Military Architecture in England, Vol. I”, George Thomas Clark, 1884

The main entrance is on this floor, at the west end of the south side. A doorway of 7 feet 7 inches opening was flanked on each side by two niched columns with plain bases and capitals, with stiff foliage of Norman character. Above the capitals is a plain chamfered abacus. The head is composed of three members, each a bold roll or bead. The two inner members spring from above the capitals, the outer member, with a dripstone worked in two bands of half-circles, springs from the abacus alone. The abacus is stopped within the portal by a square groove for a portcullis, probably of iron, behind which is a rebate for a door with a hole for a425 stout wooden bar. Five or six steps, now concealed or gone, led up to this doorway, nor are there any traces of a drawbridge. Within the portal, in the wall, here 14 feet thick, on the left, is a small round-headed niche, the flat sides and back of which are carved with low bas-reliefs of certain bishops and saints, including St. Christopher. They are fairly executed, and probably the work of some ingenious porter.
“Mediæval Military Architecture in England, Vol. I”, George Thomas Clark, 1884