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Goldcliff Priory: Priory of St Mary Magdalene (Benedictine)

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Map ReferenceST38SE
Grid ReferenceST3720081970
Unitary (Local) AuthorityNewport
Old CountyMonmouthshire
Type Of SitePRIORY
1. The Benedictine Priory of St Mary Magdalene once occupied this low sea-washed hill rising from the Gwent levels.

The Priory was founded in 1113 as a dependent cell of Bec Abbey in Normandy. At this time the levels it overlooks were uncultivated marshland. There were originally twelve monks and a prior, all drawn from Bec. In 1295 there were twenty five monks. The Priory held extensive estates in Gwent, as well as manors in Somerset and Devon. It also owned fisheries and drew profits from mills and parish churches. Its later history was troubled. The church, which also served the parish, was damaged in 1424 after which the present parish church was built (NPRN 307350). The Priory suffered on account of the French wars from the late thirteenth century and in 1442 it was supressed as an alien priory and became a cell of Tewkesbury Abbey. It later passed to Eton College and monastic life had ceased by 1467. Towards the end there were only eight monks.

There are now few traces of the Priory. A 5.0-6.0m square building, now gone, south of Hill Farm farmhouse is labelled 'Priory (remains of)' on the 1st edition OS County series mapping (Monmouth. XXXIV.15 1883) and traces of a 1.0m wide wall were recorded beneath the barn in 1957. There is said to be an ancient cellar below the farmhouse. Comprehensive parchmarks were noted in the nineteenth century.

Source: Williams in the Monmouthshire Antiquary III.1 (1970-71), 37-54

John Wiles 04.02.08

2. Royal Commission aerial photography on 24th May 2010 recorded parched building foundations of a substantial building on the south side of a larger enclosure. The building, comprising a central block with flanking wings, measures overall approx. 37m east-west by 11m north-south, and sits on the south side of a bivallate earthwork enclosure measuring approx. 75m square.

T. Driver, RCAHMW, 8th June 2010.