Ancient priory open to public in Wilmington

Wilmington Priory
Wilmington Priory

An ancient building founded by the mother of William the Conqueror will be opening its doors to the public this month.

A series of open days will take place at Wilmington Priory where people will be able to see inside the historic building and taste the culinary creations of food historian Annie Gray.

Annie will be in the kitchen over the weekend in period dress baking dishes from the medieval to Victorian era. She will also answer questions about Christmas food, customs and traditions in the era. Samples will be available to try and recipes available to take away.

The public are also invited to make decorations to dress the building.

The building is usually only available as self catering holiday accomodation offered by the Landmark Trust.

The open day gives people the rare chance to see inside the thirteenth century building which was a cell of the Benedictine Abbey of Notre-Dame de Grestain. It was founded by Herluin de Conteville and his wife Arlette, the mother of William the Conqueror.

A spokeswoman for the Landmark Trust said: “The priory dates back to 1215. Alterations have taken place in almost every century since and the result is a complex puzzle to unravel.

“A medieval site with its fine vaulted entrance porch, stair turrets and mullioned window in the Great Chamber along with the comfort of the living rooms improved by the Georgians.

“The structure has been added to and altered over its long history, some of it lost to ruin and decay. What remains now following restoration show how important it must once have been.” There are ruined walls, an underground crypt and an ancient roof structure open to the trusses for the public to discover.

Restoration of the building was completed in 2000 and Wilmington Priory has been open as holiday accomodation for parties of six people since.

The spokeswoman continued: “All are welcome to attend these open days and look around this beautiful historic building and landscape.”

The priory will be open from Thursday November 21 until Sunday November 24, from 10am until 4pm and Monday November 25 from 10am until 1pm.

There is no need to book. A free information leaflet will be available which explains the building’s history and restoration.

For further information or directions contact the Landmark Trust Booking Office on 01628 825925 or (Booking Office opens Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm and Saturday, 10am to 4pm).