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PRIORY OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN

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The site of the Benedictine Priory was on the north side of the present parish church and possibly extended east of the church tower. On the north side of the roof line of adjoining monastic buildings can still be seen, the cloisters running along the nave and other taller buildings butting against the North tower. According to Hall on the evidence of a priory seal, the foundation dated back to at least the 10th century, but there is no evidence that it was built before the 12th century. A blocked doorway to the right of the altar led to the chapel of St Agnes, licensed in 1332, with its adjoining chamber for a recluse. The chapel and chamber were extant about the middle of the 19th century. The roof-line of previous buildings along the north side of the church and tower can still be seen. The east face of the tower bears the roof-line of demolished buildings and is pierced by the blocked arch which led to the site of the chapel, now occupied by the grave-yard. The remains of the chapel consist of a 2.0m wall bonded to the North-East corner of the tower. No other traces of buildings remain in the grave-yard. The present church, still in use, was probably the conventual church of the priory. The priory is first mentioned in 1199/1200 and again in 1259 as a cell to Malmesbury monastery. Dissolved in 1536, when it comprised the prior and two monks. Excavations to the North of the church in 1972, outside the churchyard, showed that formalised priory buildings did not extend beyond the churchyard wall.

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