Hidden Yorkshire: Monk Bretton Priory in Barnsley

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.

The Ruins of Monk Bretton Priory in Barnsley

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 Gatehouse

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.

The Gatehouse at Monk Bretton Priory

Priory Church

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.

Presbytery

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.

Prior’s Range

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.

Ruins of Monk Bretton Priory

The Kitchen

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!

Monk Bretton Priory Drainage Tunnels

The Cloister

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.

Administrative Building

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!

If you want to discover more hidden gems in the county, you can find the complete Hidden Yorkshire series here.

And if you love Yorkshire as much as I do, sign up for my weekly newsletter for even more Yorkshire adventures and tips!

Until our next adventure,

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58 thoughts on “Hidden Yorkshire: Monk Bretton Priory in Barnsley”

    • Monk Bretton Priory is such a lovely place. It felt very peaceful there! I’m definitely lucky to have so many wonderful places nearby and I love unearthing hidden gems in the region! I hope you have an opportunity to swing by Yorkshire when you’re next in the UK!

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      • Hi did you know that there was a struggle for control of the Priory by the monks who lived there and the monks of near by Pontefract Priory who thought they had power over it.In 1279 the prior “Godfry” and an arm guard attacked Monk Bretton Killing three monks and taking others as prisoners Please like our facebook page for loads more information and news of future events.

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    • We’re very lucky to have so many beautiful places nearby in Yorkshire! It’s great fun discovering them all! Monk Bretton Priory is a lovely spot. It still feels like a quiet and contemplative place all these years later!

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  1. What a fascinating hidden gem! This is so me…would love to explore the ruins of Monk Bretton Priory in Barnsley.

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    • Monk Bretton Priory is a lovely spot! I could have easily spent all morning admiring the ruins! Thanks for reading!

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  2. I love hidden gems like this and Yorkshire seems to be full of them! I’ve already opened the next blog of yours to read on secret destinations in Yorkshire!

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    • Ther are definitely plenty of hidden gems in Yorkshire! I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I have enjoyed discovering them! There’s plenty more lined up for the coming months too! Thanks for reading!

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  3. What a peaceful spot! It would be interesting to walk the ruins and try and uncover what once was. I like your idea of a summer picnic on the grounds, it would make for a perfect backdrop. No ghosts though please.

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    • n Priory is such a beautiful place! It is certainly the ideal spot for a picnic! We didn’t bump into any ghosts on our visit so I’m sure you’ll be ok!

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  4. Monk Bretton Priory looks like a cool site to visit! I always need to pin your posts because I could never remember all of these unusual names (to me) in hidden Yorkshire!

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    • Haha! I’d never thought about the unusual place names in Yorkshire before! I suppose we do have some unusual ones! If you ever visit York, make sure you track down the street called Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate (I promise I’m not making that up!)

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    • Monk Bretton Priory is such a beautiful place! Evidently so much so that the ghosts didn’t want to leave!

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  5. I love the history behind these old ruins and have explored many on my visits to the UK. I haven’t heard of Monk Bretton Priory and particularly liked the ghost story.

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    • Monk Bretton Priory is such a lovely place with an interesting history. It’s a great hidden gem! And of course, what’s an English historic site without a resident ghost? I hope you get an opportunity to visit!

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  6. First of all, I loved your photos! Well done 🙂 And a lot of useful information as well. Pinned it for future x

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    • Thanks so much! I’m glad you loved the guide and have an opportunity to visit Monk Bretton Priory in the future. Thanks for reading!

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  7. Another fascinating post, Hannah. I love sites like this. The Gateway looks beautiful. It seems as if enough outlines of the site are present to envision the size and layout of the Priory when it was in existence.

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    • Monk Bretton Priory is such a fascinating place! The outline definitely gives a good impression of how spectacular the priory once was. If only it still stood today, then we’re really see how impressive it was!

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  8. It is just so mad to think what might have happened if Henry VIII had not taken the cash and destroyed so much of the Catholic church’s wealth! It is pretty amazing to see the ruins that are left…but imagine how impressive this must have been back in the 14th century!!

    Fab post Hannah!

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    • It is, isn’t it? I wish some of these buildings were still standing today so we could really understand just how grand they were! At least we can still enjoy the ruins that remain. Thanks for reading!

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  9. This looks incredible. What a great find, and it’s so good that it’s free to visit too as many English Heritage sites are not. It’s amazing how many places like this still exist despite being torn down 500 years ago. Really remarkable when you think about it

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    • I actually had no idea that it was maintained by English Heritage when I was there. There was no indication they were involved on any of the signage! I’m so glad it is free to enter too. Monk Bretton Priory is such a beautiful site and should be enjoyed by everyone! The age is just mind-blowing, isn’t it?

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  10. Yorkshire is one of my favourites in England! I love the history, church, architecture and ruins and especially the green background with trees lined up. I will look up the monk bretton priory when I am nearby.:-)

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    • There are so many great spots in Yorkshire, aren’t there? Monk Bretton Priory is such a beautiful one! It’s a great hidden gem! I hope you get an opportunity to visit!

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    • There are so many great places up north! Monk Bretton Priory is a lovely spot, I hope you get an opportunity to visit!

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  11. Firstly your trousers are fabulous! But this looks like an amazing spot. I love the idea of a summer picnic in the ruins.

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    • Haha thanks! They’re super comfy which is why I love them so much! Monk Bretton Priory is a beautiful place. I really wish I had packed a picnic for our visit!

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    • Haha apparently! Although I think I’ve yet to visit somewhere in England that doesn’t have a resident ghost to be fair! Monk Bretton Priory is a beautiful place! It’s so peaceful!

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  12. I have never heard of Monk Bretton Priory! My family live right next to Mount Grace Priory in North Yorkshire which we always feel is out secret priory as it is always so quiet and hidden away. We are so lucky to have such history on our doorstep. The next time I’m in South Yorkshire, I’ll have to visit this one too!

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    • Ooh I’ve not visited Mount Grace Priory but I have heard of it. I’m always amazed how many hidden priories there are in the UK! I’ve stumbled on a fair few (including Monk Bretton Priory!) completely by accident! It is a lovely place, I hope you get an opportunity to visit!

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  13. I love visiting places with a long interesting history. Monk Bretton Priory really does look like such a place! Would love to go there one day 🙂

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    • Monk Bretton Priory is definitely a place with a fascinating history! It’s great to be able to follow along with the history through the information boards on display. I hope you get a chance to visit!

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    • I love discovering ruins too. They’re just a tiny reminder of the impressive building that must have once stood here! I hope you have an opportunity to visit! Monk Bretton Priory is a lovely spot!

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  14. When I lived in England I worked with a girl who became my friend, and she took me to her home in Barnsley – but she never mentioned this place! Wow. So many hidden treasures!

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    • Monk Bretton Priory is certainly a well-hidden gem! Very few people seem to know about it, even locally! It is a lovely place to visit, I can see why the ones who know about it don’t want to share it!

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    • It is so magical, isn’t it? It still feels very still and peaceful here, as though the monastery is still active here!

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  15. Wow, Monk Bretton Priory is certainly a hidden gem, as this is the first I’m hearing of it! Thank you for putting this beauty on my radar. Definitely adding to my UK list!

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    • Monk Bretton Priory is such a beautiful hidden gem! It is a lovely place to stroll the grounds and admire the ruins! I hope you have an opportunity to visit!

      Reply
    • Monk Bretton Priory is a lovely hidden gem! I hope you get an opportunity to visit it! Thanks for reading!

      Reply
    • Monk Bretton Priory is a lovely hidden gem! It’s such a beautiful place! I hope you get an opportunity to visit.

      Reply
  16. Hello and thanks to everyone who have left such lovely comments. My name is Darrell and i am a member of friends of Monk Bretton Priory we have a facebook page with loads of great photos and information of our events please look in and leave us a message just say the Viking sent you

    Reply

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