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“Not in this world, as they say, but in Norfolk”
This is how John Capgrave described Beeston Regis Priory and it’s three sister monasteries in 1422, when Norfolk was a remote, almost foreign region.
The priory was founded in 1216 for a very small community of canons. These were ordamed priests who lived according to the rule of St Augustines. An important function of canons was to serve as parish priests for nearby churches and therefore they played a part in local life outside the priory. This is in contrast to the desire for complete seclusion required by many other monastic orders.
They owned large areas or farmland in Norfolk and Suffolk which provided most of their income through rents. Land near the monastery was probably managed directly by the monks Within the monastic precinct there were agricultural buildings and probably a smithy, a brewery, a guest-house, a wash-house, latrines and other buildings necessary for the running what might be described as a business enterprise with a substantial workforce.
By 1540 all the monastic houses in Britain had been closed by King Henry VIII. The abandoned churches were stripped of all valuables and in many cases they served as a source of building materials. Despite the removal of most of its cut stone corners this church survived intact because it was converted into farm buildings.
The farmhouse, which is now privately owned, was probably the house of the Prior in charge of monastic life here.
The ponds to the north and east were created to provide fresh water and fish for the monks.
The Priory is owned by the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust. It is in the guardianship of Norfolk County Council who undertook the repairs during 1986-90 with financial assistance from English Heritage.
The Priory is publicly accessible via two restricted byways. The safest access is from Beeston Common Rd.