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PRIORY HOUSE

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  WENLOCK ABBEY
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The site of Priory House, part of the remains of Wenlock Priory. The Prior's Lodge and Infirmary were converted into the L-shaped private residence 'Wenlock Abbey' at the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540. Both ranges are of stone and two storey, and over both is a massive stone-tiled roof. The remainder of the priory ruins lie immediately to the north, and are separated from the Abbey by a tall stone wall. In 1545 the priory site and demesne lands were sold to the royal physician Augustin de Augustini, who later the same year sold them on to Thomas Lawley. A local man, he moved into the prior's lodgings, which soon came to be considered as Much Wenlock manor house. The property passed through various families until 1858 when it was bought by James Milnes Gaskell. By this time the 'Abbey' (as it is erroneously known) had become a decayed farmhouse, but under Gaskell and his son C G Milnes Gaskell it was restored as a 'gentleman's country house'. The latter's wife, Lady Catherine, an ambitious social hostess who invited guests including Thomas Hardy and Philip Webb to Wenlock, laid out new gardens around it in circa 1900, at much the same time the surrounding fields being planted with parkland trees. The 'Abbey' remains in private hands.

The infirmary building was built in the 12th century as single-storey, the second floor was added later. It formed part of a quadrangle of buildings which included the warming room, dormitory, and the toilet block under which ran the main drain. The infirmary had its own chapel, kitchen, and cloister. In the 15th century, Prior Richard Singer built the new prior's lodging of Alveley sandstone, which now abuts the Infirmary as part of 'Priory House', and which originally formed the left side of the quadrangle. Its finery reflected its status as the largest and wealthiest monastery in Shropshire at the time.

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