Monkton Farleigh Priory

The Monks’ Conduit

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Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

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A monastery of Cluniac monks dedicated to St Mary Magdalene was founded at Farleigh in about 1125 by Humphrey de Bohun II, who died in 1131. He endowed it with the manor of Farleigh and most of it was confirmed by his son Humphrey III. It was  daughter foundation of the monastery of St Pancras at Lewes in Sussex.

Besides the manor, the monastery owned land at Monkton in Broughton Gifford, at Monkton in Chippenham, Foxhangers Wood in Rowde, in Cumberwell, South Wraxall and elsewhere, including some property in the St Margaret’s area of Bradford on Avon town. It also was granted the churches or tithes of many places including Trowbridge, Clutton, Timsbury and Pomeroy in Wingfield and mills at Dowlish Wake, Box, Stratton and Timsbury. At Monkton, Broughton Gifford there may have been a small daughter cell and there was a chapel for a while, now lost.

The Priory was dissolved in 1536 and the manor was granted by Henry VIII to Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp, later Duke of Somerset.

Priory wall, Monkton FarleighThere are few remains of the monastery and its church within the grounds of the Manor House except the end wall of what may have been the refectory with two Early English pointed windows (the illustration is from Sir Charles Hobhouse’s history of the parish). The most visible is the Monks’ Conduit (well house) west of Farleigh Rise; it is said to be 14th century, but the stone roof dates from 1784. Also in the fields are remains of the Priory’s fishponds.

Several carved stones, including the head of a knight in chain mail, a priest and a corbel in the shape of a head, excavated from the site of the priory are in the Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Devizes.

Monkton Farleigh Prior's seal

A drawing of a seal found in excavations carried out by Wade Browne in the mid-19th century featuring an image of St Mary Magdalene

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