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BASWICH PRIORY

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The Priory of St Thomas the Martyr was founded circa 1174 by Gerard Fitz Brian and his charter shows that he had obtained some canons from Darley Abbey (SK 33 NE 1), providing them with a site on land which he held from the bishop. Gerard's origInal gift consisted of almost 70 acres called Sheepwash Meadow and as much of the River Sow as belonged to it. The prior and five canons were granted pensions with a gratuity going to another canon, on its dissolution in 1538. The present entrance to Priory Farm is almost certainly on the exact site of the medieval entrance to the precinct. The most considerable remains are those of the conventual church and the western and southern ranges of the cloister court. Part of the conventual church is to be seen in a stretch of walling some 39 ft long on the north side of the garden of Priory Farm. The work is without doubt of the earlier 13th century and is part of the north wall of the north transept; two main features of the wall are a respond standing to full height with its original capital and, immediately to the east, a plain aumbry, see plan. These were probably parts of a chapel against the east wall of the transept. The west end of the church may have been in line with the west wall of the present house. The cloister lay on the south side of the church and was almost certainly rectangular rather than square. Priory Farm incorporates medieval features and rooms which probably belonged to the western range of the cloister. Of the southern range of the cloister the best preserved part is its south wall, the greater part of which remains to about first-floor level. The position of the cemetery was indicated in 1965 when burials were discovered to the east of the eastern range. (See SJ 92 SE 4, for stone coffin found in 1855).

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