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NORTON PRIORY

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The ruined remains of an Augustinian abbey founded in 1133 by William Fitznigel, Baron of Halton, for a community of Augustinian canons. The priory church was begun circa 1135 and shows six phases of construction and alteration. Temporary monastic lodgings have been revealed dating to this first phase of construction. A chapter house was later added during the 13th century. In 1392 the priory was raised to abbey status. During the 15th century a tower house, known as the Abbot's Tower, was built. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, the remains of the abbey buildings were incorporated into a Tudor mansion and the church was allowed to fall down. The Tudor mansion was replaced by a Georgian country house built in around 1750. This house was demolished in 1928.

The site of the monastery was surrounded by a moat, now filled in. On the moated site, apart from the abbey buildings, where a number of other features including an excavated bell pit, a moated garden or orchard, a tile kiln and an extensive burial ground. The ruined abbey church is on the north side of the site. To the south of the nave are the cloister, the Abbot's lodgings and, attached to the lodgings, the Abbot's tower. Little of the cloister remains. The garth was 17 metres square and surrounded by an ambulatory. Fragments of this arcade are now restored in the museum. The cellarer's range within the Abbot's lodgings are the only original buildings still standing on the site. To the south of the choir was a sacristy and the original chapter house. To the south of the cloister and chapter house are the refectory and dormitory range. The main drain for the abbey buildings ran across the south end of the site. To the western end of this drain was a building complex of some quality which has been interpreted as the guest quarters for the abbey.

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