Priory House


Monks of Leominster Priory

The Priory, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 8EQ

Welcome to the Priory House

The Priory House, or Old Priory, is one of the few surviving buildings that were built by the monks of Leominster Priory.

Others include the Forbury Chapel and parts of the Priory church itself. The Priory House was probably built in the mid-1100s and altered several times in later years.

Monks tending to the sick.

Some historians think that the building was an infirmary, where the priory monks cared for the sick. It had a good water supply for washing and cooking from Pinsley Brook, which ran underneath the building and also carried away waste from the toilets.

Important visitors travelling into Wales or along the Marches also visited Leominster Priory. Baldwin, the Archbishop of Canterbury, stayed here in 1189, while touring the country to raise support for the Crusades. In 1216 King John also came to Leominster, as part of efforts to raise support for his fight against an army of rebel barons.

Other historians believe that the Priory House was in fact the house of the prior, or head of the monastery. It was such a comfortable building that it was not demolished in 1539 when the monastery was closed, but was instead kept as a domestic residence.

In 1717, the Priory House was made into ‘a mansion house for the Bailiff [Mayor] for the feasts and balls’, so it was still clearly an important place.

Head of King John from his tomb in Worcester Cathedral.  Image © David Gee.

20th century. Afterwards, this building was briefly the Old Priory Hospital and then offices for the County Council. More recently, it has once again welcomed visitors as a youth hostel.

Did you know?

The 1881 census tells us that there were 76 men, women and children resident in the workhouse at that time, supervised by a master, matron and nurse. They ranged in age from 10 months to 81 years.