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Mount Grace Priory Carthusian monastery: monastic precinct, fishponds, moat, mill and well-houses

A Scheduled Monument in East Harlsey, North Yorkshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.3802 / 54°22'48"N

Longitude: -1.3105 / 1°18'37"W

OS Eastings: 444884.102945

OS Northings: 498515.097671

OS Grid: SE448985

Mapcode National: GBR MK9S.2L

Mapcode Global: WHD7X.V54F

Entry Name: Mount Grace Priory Carthusian monastery: monastic precinct, fishponds, moat, mill and well-houses

Scheduled Date: 8 February 1915

Last Amended: 26 June 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013019

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13281

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: East Harlsey

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Details

Mount Grace Priory is situated between Ingleby and Osmotherly in North
Yorkshire. The monument comprises a single area containing the standing
remains of the Carthusian charterhouse properly titled the House of the
Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin and St Nicholas of Mount Grace at
Ingleby. Also included is a range of additional features associated with the
monastery, such as a fishpond, three well-houses, a moat and the remains of
the priory mill.
Extensive standing remains demonstrate the typical layout of a charterhouse.
Each monk had his own cell and garden where he ate, slept, laboured and
prayed, while farming, food preparation and other communal activities were
carried out by lay-brothers. The plan of the charterhouse reflects this
arrangement and comprises an inner court to the south, entered via a gatehouse
and enclosed by buildings, giving access on the north side to the Great
Cloister around which the monks' cells were arranged. The church,
chapterhouse, frater (communal dining hall) and prior and sacristans' cells
divided the two courts, along with a much smaller Little Cloister south of the
church, added at a late stage to increase the number of cells. Each cell
occupied part of a 15.3m square walled garden and consisted of a ground floor
divided into four rooms by timber partitions and an upper floor which acted as
a work-room, since every Carthusian practised a trade. The ground floor rooms
comprised an entrance passage, a hall (living area) with a fireplace and
stairs up to the work room, a study and a bedroom with its own oratory or
private chapel. A corridor overlooking the garden was also meant for study
and meditation, while another led to the garderobe or latrine. Several of the
cells and gardens at Mount Grace have been excavated and, although no two
gardens have been identical, each has shown evidence of horticultural
activities such as planting trenches and herb beds. A niche in the wall in
one or other of the corridors contained a tap that provided each cell with
water piped from a central conduit house, and a hole in the cloister wall by
each door acted as a service hatch and was right-angled to prevent the inmate
of the cell and the server from seeing each other.
The standing remains of the outer court include five separate two storey
buildings, arranged round three sides of the court, plus the gatehouse and
guesthouse range with a bakehouse and brewery attached. All were originally
built of timber in the 15th century and had been rebuilt in stone by the early
16th. The ground floor of the west range was occupied by a series of camerae
(small rooms or offices) while the upper storeys of every range were occupied
by granaries, an indication that grain-production was the basis of the
monastery's economy. The south range consisted of a store, stable and
granary-cum-kilnhouse, a type usually associated with malting barley for
brewing. The east range of the inner court no longer exists above ground but
the foundations of additional buildings survive underneath. Part of the outer
court is indicated to the west of the priory by the fragmentary remains of the
priory mill and a complex of water-management works including fishponds and a
moat.
The church at Mount Grace was built in four main phases between c.1400 and the
early 16th century, when the burial chapel to the south of the presbytery was
added. In comparison with churches belonging to other monasteries of
different Orders, it appears small and plain. But the daily round of services
practised by these Orders was not emulated by the Carthusians who used their
churches primarily for mass, matins and vespers. The monks occupied the
eastern part of the church and were separated from the lay brothers, who used
the western part, by a screen. All of the main building phases are
represented by standing remains. Like the monasteries of other Orders,
charterhouses were notable for the efficiency of their sanitation and plumbing
arrangements and, north of the church, at the centre of the Great Cloister, is
a conduit house which supplied piped water to each cell. The source of the
monastery's water was three springs, rising on the slope to the east, each of
which had its own well-house and two of which have been excavated and
reconstructed. The conduit house was supplied with drinking water from the
well to the north-east, drawn by gravity along a lead pipe sandwiched between
two layers of stone flags. Where the pipe passed through the precinct wall,
there was an arrangement whereby surplus water was drawn off in order to flush
the drains running beneath the kitchens and latrines.
Mount Grace was the eighth of the nine English charterhouses to be founded,
licence being granted in 1398 to Thomas de Holand, Duke of Surrey and Earl of
Kent. De Holand was a supporter of Richard II and was beheaded in 1400 for his
part in the rebellion against Henry IV. With his fall the monastery too
suffered, because his entitlement to the manor of Bordelby, with which he had
endowed the charterhouse, seems to have been insecure and a series of disputes
over ownership followed. From the mid 15th century, however, due largely to
the rapid rise in popularity of the Carthusian Order, the priory's endowment
was improved by additional grants so that, by the first Act of Dissolution in
1536, it was one of the richest monasteries to escape suppression. It was
finally suppressed in 1539 and the priory granted to James Strangways. After
his death in 1541, it passed through several owners until being sold to Thomas
Lascelles in 1653. Lascelles converted the buildings north of the gate into a
private house and the priory remained with his family until being given to the
Treasury and thence to the National Trust in 1953. Apart from St John's Well,
the site has been in State Care since 1955 and is a Grade I Listed Building.
A number of features within the protected area are excluded from the
scheduling. These include all National Trust and English Heritage fixtures
such as signs, grilles and bridges, the surfaces of paths, driveways and car-
parks, all modern fencing and walling, the custodian's house, ticket office
and the 17th century house of Thomas Lascelles which is more appropriately
protected by its Grade II* Listed status. The ground beneath all these
exclusions is, however, included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A charterhouse is a monastery of the Carthusians. The order was founded in
the 11th century, the first houses in England being established in the 12th or
13th century. It is a settlement planned to provide a community of
contemplative monks with facilities for worship, accommodation and, to some
extent, subsistence. Carthusian life was centred on solitude and favoured
meditation over communal meeting. In taking this approach to monastic life
the Carthusians were unique amongst orders in the West. In contrast to other
monastic establishments the components of the charterhouse were devoted to
individual accommodation in preference to communal buildings. Most notable
were the individual cells and gardens built for each monk, these being ranged
around a great cloister. In addition to these cells each monastery had a main
church, workshops, guesthouses, kitchens and other buildings, these being
enclosed within some form of boundary.
Like other monasteries, charterhouses were inextricably woven into the fabric
of medieval society, acting not only as centres of worship, learning, and
charity, but also, because of their vast landholdings, as centres of immense
wealth and political influence. Nine charterhouses were established in
medieval England. In view of their rarity and unique form of organisation, all
examples exhibiting archaeological survival are identified as nationally
important.

Mount Grace is by far the best preserved Carthusion monastery in the country.
The well preserved buildings clearly demonstrate how the Carthusian's
arrangement differed from those of other orders.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Coppack, G, English Heritage Book of Abbeys and Priories, (1990)
English Heritage, , Mount Grace Priory, (1971)
Saunders, A D, Medieval Archaeology , (1958)
Hope St John, W H, 'Archaeological Journal' in Archaeological Journal, , Vol. 58, (1901)
Keen, L J, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Archaeology, , Vol. 14, (1970)
Saunders, A D, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Archaeology (pg 306), , Vol. 3, (1959)
Saunders, A D, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Archaeology (pg 314), , Vol. 5, (1961)
Other
Coppack, Glyn, (1990)
English Heritage, An EH monograph on archaeological work carried out to c.1992, Forthcoming in c.1995

Source: Historic England

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