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Cartmel Priory on the Cartmel Peninsula

Cartmel Priory, Near Grange over Sands, Cumbria and the Lake District.
The distinctive tower of Cartmel Priory.

Cartmel Priory
Nearest Town: Grange over Sands.
Location: SD 379788, Sheet 96.

Welcome to the EDGE Guide to Cartmel Priory. Founded in 1190, this striking building was built by the Baron of Cartmel and occupied by the Augustinian Canons, as at Carlisle Cathedral and Lanercost Priory.

Little is known of the Priory's history up to the Dissolution.

During the Dissolution, when Henry VIII took control of the Church, the Canons were ejected (despite appeals by the people of the area), and four of them were hanged, as were 10 farmers who had supported them.

The whole of the Priory's property was taken by the Crown: as usually happened the lead was stripped off the roof, as was the norm in order to speed up the Priory's decay.

It would also have been normal for the stone to be taken from the walls for use on other buildings, but the Priory survived thanks to its founder, William Marshall, who 350 years earlier had made sure that an alter within the Priory be given to the people of Cartmel village and a priest provided for them.

The people of Cartmel village successfully appealed to the Crown to be allowed to continue using the Priory.

Until 1618 the villagers continued to attend services in the choir while the rain came through where the roof of the nave had once been.

Considerable financial help was provided for the restoration of the roof in 1618 by George Preston of nearby Holker Hall.

At that time the Priory and it's surrounding buildings were considerably larger than that which remains today. Stone from most the Priory's buildings was used in the construction of the very picturesque village of Cartmel.

The Priory Gatehouse survives in the village square and illustrates the impact the original range of buildings must have had on the visitor.

Cartmel Priory Gatehouse in the village of Cartmel near Grange over Sands, Cumbria.
Cartmel Priory Gatehouse.

In 1643 some of Cromwell's 'Roundhead' troops stayed overnight in the village, stabling their horses in the church. The troops did some damage here as they did in most places they occupied.

Bullet holes can be seen in the door in the SW corner of the nave.

By 1830 the church was in need of repair and a long period "restoration" began.

Victorian restoration techniques were enthusiastic rather than sympathetic, some would say that they were no more than vandals, but the decay of the fabric of the building was halted.

Map of Cumbria and the Lake District.