We made a visit to the ruins of Monk Bretton Priory in Yorskhire as part of our genealogical research into my wife’s family. It is relatively well preserved site for a disillusion monastery, and it was really interesting to look around.
Its history begins, somewhere around when 1090 Robert de Lacy founded a monastic house dedicated to St John in Pontefract, in order for the Cluniac monks to make daily prayers on behalf of his family. In 1154 Adam Fitz Swain followed suit by having a “daughter” house (St. Mary Magdalene) established at Lundwood, Barnsley. This has come to be known as Monk Bretton Priory. The Cluniacs at Monk Bretton controlled agriculture and natural resources in the area of Wakefield and Rotherham. It was not all smooth sailing however, as in the reign of King Edward I, monks from the Cluniac “mother house” in La Charité-sur-Loire, France came to make claim on some of this wealth.
The house at Monk Bretton survived this and remained fairly prominent until 30 November 1538, when it was closed by order f Henry VIII’s commissioners as part of the monastic dissolution. On closure, it passed into the ownership of the Blithman family, and later to the Earl of Shrewsbury. the property is now managed and maintained by the Borough of Barnsley and English Heritage.
The Gate House and Admin Building are the best preserved, though there are some other features such as the chapel space still semi-extant as well.
The site is open daily from 10 am to 3 pm, except for Christmas and New Years. The day we visited was drizzly, but the overall experience was still good. There are Chinese and Indian restaurants and a cafe not far away on the A628 as well.
English Heritage Information on Monk Bretton