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MICHELHAM PRIORY

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The remains of an Augustinian monastery situated on the eastern bank of the River Cuckmere in the Sussex Weald. Michelham Priory, survives in the form of a rectangular, north east-south west aligned moated island of around 6 hectares containing standing buildings, earthworks and associated below ground remains. The priory was founded by Gilbert de Aquila in 1229 and was dissolved in 1536. The main monastic buildings are ranged around a square inner cloister yard. The frater lies along the southern side of the cloister and survives as a two-storeyed building with sandstone walls and a clay-tiled roof. The standing, southern end of the western range, originally housing the prior's lodging, is of three storeys. These buildings have been dated to the 13th century. The other buildings of the main cloister, including the monastic church along its northern side, survive in the form of buried foundations. The domestic west range dates to the 16th century, after the Dissolution. Access to the island is by way of a stone bridge and barbican gateway over the central part of the north western arm of the moat. The gateway is a sqauare, tower-like building of three storeys constructed of sandstone ashlar. The barbican gateway has been dated to the 15th century. The attached round-arched, parapeted bridge dates to the 16th century. The guest house, dating to the 13th century, was revealed by excavation in the southern corner of the island in 1971-76. Immediately to the north east are the foundations of a cart shed. The investigations further suggested that the moat was constructed after the erection of the earliest monastic buildings, during the late 14th or early 15th centuries. The arms of the water filled moat are up to 30 metres wide. The priory passed onto secular ownership at the time of the Reformation and has undergone several, subsequent phases of alteration and development.

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