Llanthony Secunda Priory

The remains of the 12th-century Llanthony Secunda Priory are located next to Gloucestershire College campus along the canal, south of the Docks. They comprise the ruins of a stone tithe barn, two restored ranges, sections of wall and the ruins of a gatehouse.

The priory was established in 1136 as an alternative for the monks of Llanthony Priory in the Honddu valley (in what would later become Monmouthshire), following attacks there by the Welsh.

The second priory was located to the south-west of Gloucester, outside the city walls. There is evidence to suggest that the first structures were temporary, indicating that the monks planned to return to the Welsh priory. By the end of the 12th century, a more substantial church had been built, and in 1205 the two priories separated.

The church was rebuilt after a fire in 1301, and towards the end of the century the chapel, cloister and granary were rebuilt. In 1481 the two priories were re-united when the prior of Llanthony Secunda bought Llanthony Prima.

By 1518 the church was in ruins, and twenty years later the priory became the property of the crown as a result of the dissolution of the monasteries. In 1540 the estate was sold to Arthur Porter, Justice of the Peace for Gloucestershire and a future Member of Parliament for Gloucester, who used the priory as a residence.

The priory was substantially damaged during the English Civil War. Before the siege of Gloucester began in 1643 a tower was pulled down to prevent its use as an observation post. Buildings were further damaged by Parliamentarian raids on Royalist artillery located at the priory during the siege.

It is likely that the priory church had been completely destroyed by 1710, and the priory site was used as a farmstead in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the late 18th century the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal was dug through the eastern side of the site, during which the foundations of the church were found.

Surviving remnants

 

The 21st-century Gloucestershire College campus now sits on the site of the church. To the south of the campus lie the remains of a 15th-century tithe barn (grade I, list #: 1271698). Past that is some rubble belonging to a medieval range that was part-demolished some time before 1882 and then the still-standing middle segment of that range (grade I, list#: 1271693). At the end of the range, where a gate between outer and inner courts was once located, is a late 19th-century farmhouse (grade II, list#: 1245765) which incorporates some remains of the the range to which it is attached.

Another range (grade I, list#: 1271697), dating to the 16th century, survives on the original southern boundary of the priory. Also surviving are lengths of the 15th-century northern wall (grade I, list#: 1271695) and 16th-century western wall (grade I, list#: 1271696), along with the ruins of the late 15th-century outer gatehouse in the western wall (grade I, list#: 1271694).

By the 1970s the site was occupied by various tenancies and used in part for industrial purposes, including a scrapyard. It was bought in 1974 by the city council, and in 2007 the charitable Llanthony Secunda Priory Trust was established. After 19 months of restoration and conservation work, the priory was opened in 2018.

The restored south range is available for venue hire. An exhibition detailing the history of the priory has been installed in west range, open free of charge to visitors on the first Sunday of every month, with guided tours available for a small charge. The grounds of the former priory, including the remains of the tithe barn, are publicly accessible year round.

Website: https://llanthonysecunda.org/

© 2020–2021 All images copyright Shadowed Eyes unless otherwise credited

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