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GRAFTON REGIS PRIORY

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A beneficed hermitage or small priory stood near Shaw Wood at the extremity of the lordship of Grafton Regis, bordering on Stoke and Alderton, and was dedicated to St Mary and St Michael. The first reference to it was made between 1180 and 1205, and its independent life was supposed to have ceased at the end of the fourteenth century when it became amalgamated with the Austin abbey of St James. Excavation was carried out in 1964 over the whole area, revealing a plan more in keeping with a monastery. The buildings were arranged around a cloister with the church on its South side, the kitchen area was in a second block to the West, near a large building thought to be for baking and brewing. A barn or hospital and circular dovecot were away from the main complex. The buildings continued in use until the late 15th cent, and have been interpreted as the hermitage/priory which is the only documented religious building in the area. The plan of the claustral complex shows a poorly developed site, and suggests that the Woodvilles, who were landowners, developed the site for domestic purposes in the 15th century. The cloister, in particular seems to have been replaced by a structure with a hearth.

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