Last Updated on 20/07/2022
The ruin of Monk Bretton Priory in Barnsley is one of South Yorkshire’s best-kept secrets. Tucked away on a dead-end street, you could easily miss this peaceful spot when you are in the area. This guide shows you how to find Monk Bretton Priory and how to get the most out of your visit.
In this guide you will discover how to find Monk Bretton Priory in Barnsley. You will also learn about the history of the priory, plus, what you need to see when you visit.
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About Monk Bretton Priory
Before you plan your visit, here is an overview of Monk Bretton Priory and its history.
Where is Monk Bretton Priory?
Monk Bretton Priory can be found in the village of Lundwood. It is close to Monk Bretton, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire.
How old is Monk Bretton Priory?
A Cluniac monastery was first founded on the site in the 12th century. The site went on to become a Benedictine house in 1281. You can still see elements of the remains from this period when you visit.
Who destroyed Monk Bretton Priory?
The priory was destroyed following the ruling of the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1538. It closed in November 1538 and its materials were repurposed.
The church was dismantled and used to create the parish church of Wentworth. Unfortunately, this church was also dismantled so the supplies no longer remain. The bells were melted down for reuse in London.
Who owns Monk Bretton Priory?
Today, the site is maintained by English Heritage. However, unlike many of their larger sites, there is no entry fee. Members and non-members of English Heritage can park and visit the priory ground free of charge.
Monk Bretton Priory Map
In the car park at the priory you will find a large information board. This board introduces the history of the site, as well as a map of where the priory once stood.
Throughout the site you will find additional information boards that talk about each of the rooms. These also contain maps which highlight where you are, so you can remain orientated as you move through the priory remains.
Visiting Monk Bretton Priory
Here is all the information you need for planning your visit.
How to get to Monk Bretton Priory
It is easy to access Monk Bretton Priory by car. There is a small free car park on site, simply navigate to S71 5QD. There is an alternative free car park close by, also on Abbey Road. You can find this one at the same postcode, but, due to a pedestrianised section between the car park and the Priory, this second car park can only be accessed from the A633.
The nearest train station is Barnsley station, 2.5 miles away. There are numerous local bus services that will drop you just a short walk away. These include Stagecoach services 26, 26A, 28, 29, 29A, 30, 30A, 32 & X28, Tates 34A and Redline 32A, 37, 37A, 38 & 46.
What to see at Monk Bretton Priory
When you visit Monk Bretton Priory, here are some of the sights you will be able to discover.
The first part of the priory remains you will encounter is the Gatehouse. This original entry point is reasonably well preserved. A Gatekeeper would have used this building to admit or deny entry to the priory.
Only the outline of the Priory Church remains. Building started in the late 1150s, but it wasn’t completed until the 14th century. The church was large and around 60m in length. Inside, there were two aisles that were each three metres wide.
The presbytery was located at the east end of the church. You can still see a raised platform which made up the high alter, where Mass was said.
Some of the walls of the Prior’s Range still stand today. This section of the building once stood three stories high. The remains of the ground level were used as a storeroom and included a drain to draw water. The upper levels were chambers where the monks slept.
Little of the priory kitchen remains today but it is possible to see where it once stood. Originally the kitchen area would have been made up of several rooms, including a service area with a serving hatch into the refectory where the monks ate. There was also a kitchen area for cooking, and a scullery for pots and pans, plus a walled kitchen yard.
Monk Bretton Priory Tunnels
Close to the kitchen you can clearly see a series of stone-lined drains. The drains at Monk Bretton Priory are some of the best surviving examples of monastic drainage in Europe.
If you follow the drains, they will lead you to the drainage tunnels which disappear underground. These tunnels are well preserved and have even hosted paranormal investigations!
The cloister was an enclosed square at the centre of the priory. This central court was lined by four covered walks, which acted as corridors, connecting various parts of the priory.
The administrative building is the best-preserved building on the site. It stands alone to the left of the Gatehouse if you are stood in the car park. This building was built in the 13th century and is where the monks would meet visitors.
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to enter the building today. However, the exterior gives us a flavour of just how grand the priory must have looked when it stood.
Things to know before you visit
Before you visit the priory, here is some essential information you need to know:
- The site is large with a lot of open green space. In the summer months it would make an ideal picnic spot but please ensure you take your rubbish home with you to preserve the natural beauty.
- There are no facilities at the site. This includes no toilet facilities or no cafe.
- The site does have a car park (S71 5QD) however, it is small. An alternative free car park can be found a short distance away, also on Abbey Lane, but the route from Monk Bretton Priory to the Abbey Lane car park is pedestrianised, so the second car park can only be reached from the A633.
Monk Bretton Priory Ghost
It is rumored that some of the monks never left Monk Bretton Priory. Visitors have reported seeing robed figures walking around the site.
Ghostly monks have also been spotted at nearby Mill of the Black Monks pub, which was a watermill built by the monks. They have also been seen at an old bridge in Ardsley, which was supposedly connected to the priory via a secret underground passageway.
So, keep your eyes open on your visit. Who knows who you might just bump into!
Before You Go
If you’re ready to explore Monk Bretton Priory for yourself, be sure to bookmark this page or pin it using the link below so you can revisit this guide!
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Until our next adventure,