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Pictures of Castle Acre Priory

in the town of Castle Acre, in the county of Norfolk

About Castle Acre Priory

No one looking at the impressive remains of this Cluniac Priory founded by William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey towards the end of the 11th-century can be left in any doubt as to the wealth of its benefactors, nor the skill of the Cluniac builders. Scolland, steward to Earl Alan of Richmond was a great benefactor of the priory, he is buried within its grounds.

The romantic priory remains can be discovered in the grounds of the Castle Acre Estate, they are immediately eye catching and startling in their grace and beauty, with the remains of the majestic great west front of the church being almost untouched. Here there is much intricate workmanship to be seen, this reminds us that the Cluniacs were often criticised for their wealth, which was displayed throughout the building by what was considered at the time to be excessive decoration. Fortunately, amongst these ruins, much has remained for us to appreciate today.

The Prior's lodgings attached to the church show many delightful features, with the western range of the cloisters being extended in the 14th-century, when a decorative round window was added to the Prior's study. This part of the priory remains is particularly well preserved, which may be largely due to the fact that despite the Dissolution of 1537, the Prior's lodgings continued in use until well into the 18th-century, thus over the centuries they were the subject of several alterations and internal additions. Today, this building shows well the ease and grace of a 15th-century mansion house, telling of the extravagance in which the prior lived and entertained.

Throughout the landscape on which the priory was built there are smaller remains, even these show some semblance of the detail of the building, and what remains of the long external walls give a clear indication the overall size of the collective buildings.

In this quiet corner of Norfolk, beneath blue skies with rosy pink tinted clouds, there is a hushed, hallowed atmosphere which has an almost calming, uplifting effect and looking at the sweeping countryside surrounding the priory you can see at once just why the Cluniacs chose to build their magnificent building here. For the visitor, there is not simply the delight of the ruins, but views over beautiful open countryside where once the monk's would have tended their sheep.

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