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PRIORY OF THE CANONS OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE

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The ruins of the Priory of the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre, an Augustinian monastery founded in or soon after 1139 and dissolved in 1536. Underlying the priory are buried remains relating to the pre-Conquest town of Thetford. After the Dissolution the nave of the church survived as a barn. The nave of the church is rectangular, without aisles, and measures circa 24 metres east-west by 10 metres. Limited excavations carried out to the east and the north of the nave in 1969, showed the church as a whole was originally circa 53 metres in length and cruciform in plan. The walls of the nave of the church, which are constructed of mortared flint rubble with ashlar dressings, stand to a height of circa 6 metres. The arched opening of the west door of the church survives in the west wall, below the blocked opening of part of a large window. The excavations to the north of the nave revealed traces of the south cloister walk alongside. The conventual buildings would have been grouped around the cloister, and it is possible that a stub of wall which extends northwards from the north west angle of the nave is a remnant of part of the west range. Features which date from the period when the nave was used as a barn include a large cart entrance cut through the south wall in the third bay, and a smaller doorway in the north wall opposite. Both are now blocked. The remains of a grotto from a 19th century ornamental garden can be seen in the east end of the nave. The excavations to the east of the nave revealed fragmentary remains of chalk foundations and robbed trenches which are evidence for a building predating the church and perhaps relating to the original foundation of the priory or to the period before the Conquest. Below these were found various buried features dated to the late Saxon period, including infilled pits and ditches and evidence for timber structures indicative of intensive occupation. These relate to the late Saxon town of Thetford.

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