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ST BOTOLPHS PRIORY

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The remains of St Botolph's Priory are located in the centre of the town of Colchester, Essex, at the southern gateway in the town wall. Founded circa 1100, it was the first Augustinian house to be established in Britain. Prior to this, a community of secular priests lived here. Today, the site consists of the standing remains of the priory church and the buried remains of the claustral buildings.

The ruins of the church include the west end and the arcades and walls of the nave. It is cruciform in plan, aligned east-west and built from stone imported from France, as well as reused Roman brick and tile. The facade would originally have been rendered in plaster though this has not survived.

Adjacent to the south of the church are the buried remains of the claustral buildings. In the centre of the cloister was an open area and a walkway enclosed to the north by the church and to the south, east and west by ranges of claustral buildings. The eastern range would have included the chapter house, monk's dormitory and privy house. The southern range would have housed the refectory and kitchens and the western range would have been used for storage but may have included other domestic buildings such as the brew house. Possibly within the cloister or elsewhere in the precinct would be the abbot's house and, typically to the south east of the cloister, would have been the infirmary.

The priory was dissolved in 1536 by King Henry VIII and the buildings and land were granted to Sir Thomas Audley, the Lord Chancellor. The nave of the church remained in use as a parish church while the east end of the church and the claustral buildings were probably dismantled for building stone. The church had fallen out of use by the Civil War when it suffered considerable damage during the siege of Colchester in 1648. The site was placed in state guardianship in 1912 and remains in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the English Heritage website.