Priory Church of St. Mary, Bridlington, commonly known as Bridlington Priory Church is a parish church in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, in the Diocese of York. It is on the site of an Augustinian priory founded in 1113 which was dissolved during the Dissolution of the Monasteries The surviving nave of the church is now a thriving parish church, a centre of worship and outreach. Visitors are always welcome. Sunday worship included much variety in style and content (8am to 10.30am and 6.30pm). The priory is open on weekdays from 10am – 12 noon in the Winter and from 10am to 4pm in the Summer, also Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons.
Bridlington Priory was founded around 1113 by Walter de Gant, for Augustinian Canons Regular, one of the earliest Augustinian houses in England, with an adjoining convent. Its foundation was confirmed in charters by King Henry I of England The site had formerly been a Saxon church and nunnery. When complete, the building was over 400 ft long (120 m) and 75 ft wide (23 m), with a transept which was 150 ft long (46 m). The first prior is though to have been called Guicheman or Wickeman.
The priory was favoured by kings and their nobles and soon owned land across Yorkshire. The Canons from the priory established Newburgh Priory in 1145. King Stephen granted the priory should have right to have the property of felons and fugitives within the town and proceeds from the harbour and later King John gave the priory the right to hold a yearly fair in the town in 1200. During the conflict between Stephen and Matilda, William le Gros, Earl of Albemarle (a Manor in Holderness which is now ‘lost’) advanced on the priory and expelled the canons in his campaign against Gilbert de Gant of Hunmanby. He fortified the priory and later gave the priory six parcels of land, one at Boynton and the rest in Holderness. Henry IV appropriated the rectory of Scarborough to the priory which was later confirmed by Henry V, Henry VI and Edward IV. A royal license was also granted by Richard II in 1388 to crenellate the priory with a wall and gates of stone.There were fourth gates, Kirk Gate, West Gate, Nun Gate and Bayle Gate. The the priory also had a large library, which listed by John Leland shortly before the dissolution.
Dissolution of the Monasteries
The priory was dissolved in 1538 by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The priory was very wealthy at the time of the dissolution and its yearly income was estimated to be £547 6s. 11½D, and owned land stretching from Blubberhouses in the north, and Askham Richard, down to the Spurn Point.
The condition of the priory at the dissolution can be gathered from the report of Richard Pollard, a surveyor of Henry VIII. The Church was more than 390 feet in length, surrounded by the Chapter House, Treasury, Cloister, Prior’s Hall, Infirmary. All the buildings were destroyed except the Nave which became the parish church and the Gate-house, which is now the Bayle Gate Museum. Some of the stones from the old priory were used in the construction of the piers at Bridlington. The last Prior, William Wode, was executed at Tyburn for his part in the Pilgrimage of Grace.
For three centuries after the dissolution, the Nave continued to be used as the parish church and only a third of the building was actually used by the congregation. From 1846 the parish began to raise funds to restore the church and it partially re-roofed, the west window was opened out and filled with stained glass; the interior was white-washed; and the east window also was filled with stained glass. Around 1874 the church employed Sir George Gilbert Scott to completed refurbish the church as it is today. The total cost of the restoration was about £27,000.
People Connected to the Priory
St John of Bridlington, English saint.
Piers Langtoft who wrote a history of England in Anglo-Norman verse.
Sir George Ripley, 15th century English alchemist
Phone: +44 (0)1262 601938