The first Cluniac Priory in Britain

The first Cluniac Priory in Britain

Priory, Town and Castle
Illustration Andy Gammon 2010

The Priory of St Pancras was founded between 1078 and 1082. The first church was built in the 11th century by the first Prior, Lanzo, who came over from Cluny in France with 3 monks.

Over the centuries the Priory developed and expanded. The reconstruction drawing shows how the Priory might have looked just before it was demolished in 1538. There were as many as 100 monks living here in the 12th and 13th centuries but this had declined to only 24 monks in 1537.

The main duties of the Cluniac monks were prayer and contemplation. They attended eight church services and masses and processions held during the day and night.

Many other people worked in the Priory precinct. The water mill ground grain sent as payment from the estates owned by the Priory. The flour was used to bake bread in the bakery. Ale was brewed in the brewery as water was too contaminated to drink. Food was provided from the gardens, orchards, fish-ponds and pigeon house. It may be hard to imagine but this whole area would have been bustling with the activity needed to sustain such an important institution.