From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Mattersey Priory

53° 23' 52.9" N 0° 56' 37.6" W

  • History
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
Mattersey Priory is located close to Mattersey in Nottinghamshire. It was a priory of the Gilbertine order and was dedicated to St Helen. It was built on what was then an island in the River Idle and was founded for canons, never becoming a 'double' house.

The priory was founded in 1185 for six canons of the Gilbertine order by Roger, son of Ranulph de Mattersey. The Gilbertines were the only order of purely English origin. The church was a short, narrow, rectangular, aisleless building, without transepts. To the north of the church, what resembles a northern transept is in fact a 15th century tower. The eastern range of the cloisters was originally a single room on the ground floor. This was a poor priory, when the church burnt down in 1279 it was never rebuilt. Even so the priory made its mark in the surrounding area, extensive land management shaped what is now Abbey Farm. In 1291 the gross income was £52 and in 1534 the priory had a total income of £55

The priory was dissolved by King Henry VIII as a result of his Dissolution of the Monasteries act, on the 3rd of October 1538 by Robert Holgate, Bishop of Llandaff.. As well as the priory, most of Mattersey village, which included the church, a warren of coneys, a water mill, a windmill, fishery rights, and the rectory of the vicarage of Mattersey, were granted to Anthony Nevyll, Esq, of the Royal Body, and Mary his wife, on 4th November 1539.

The priory became a quarry for building material. As the Neville family were responsible for the repair of the church chancel in the village, much of the stone used in the repairs came from the priory. Two carvings found under the chancel floor came from the priory.

The ruins of the priory are located on the west bank of the River Idle. The only remains left are parts of the refectory, foundations of the 14th century kitchens and parts of the church. Partial excavation of the site in 1914 revealed the buried foundations of the east and south ranges of the cloister. The east range consisted of a single ground floor room with the sleeping quarters above, and the south range, the undercroft below the refectory. The foundations of the west range also survive beneath the present ground surface, and the remains of ancillary buildings such as barns, a bakehouse and an infirmary, will lie along with the remains of stock pens and enclosures, within the area of the outer precinct and under the present farm buildings and yards of Abbey Farm.