While in England I will have the pleasure of giving the tour of Mount Grace Priory. This particular priory’s founder was Thomas de Holland, who was the nephew of King Richard II. It was founded in 1398, and was the last to be established in England before the reformation. Richard II was said to be a generous benefactor of the priory. Mount Grace priory was different from most being that it was a Carthusian monastery of which there is not many found in England. The Carthusian monks lived a very strict solitary life style. They lived in places, like the priory, for protection yet lived in isolation. Unlike other monks who worked, ate, and slept together, Carthusian monks had their own private cells in which they spent most of their time. Though on Sunday’s they did eat as a group, but sat in silence. Other day’s, lay brothers would bring the monks’ food to their individual cells and place it in the opening of the wall so it could be left without disturbing the monk’s solitude. There are remains of fifteen two-story cells along the North, East, and West sides of the Great Cloister. Each cell had the makings of a domestic house. For example it had a living room, a study, a fireplace, and a bedroom. The upstairs was a work area where the monk’s individual trade was performed. The cells had two doors, one that led to a private cloister for mediation and the second leading to the garden and a water-flushed latrine that was in the North wall.
The Great Cloister that holds the monk’s living area is much larger than most monastic cloisters since there was a lot of space needed to be able to build 15 individual cells. In the northeast corner, there was a garden where the monks were usually buried. In the southwest corner was another building that was three-stories high and was formed in the fifteenth century, which was originally a prison for the monks who broke the strict rules. Even monks from other charterhouses were sent there for correction. There was also a lesser cloister, which held six smaller cells for the lay brothers who were the monk’s servants.
The Church was built at the end of the fourteenth century. It was small and fairly plain but was also to be the burial place for Thomas Beaufort, the Duke of Exeter. It was a rectangular building, but later in 15th century two chapels were added onto the north and south side of the nave and then in the 16th century a third chapel was added to the south side of the choir. The monks used the eastern part and the lay brothers used the nave.
There was only one entrance from the outer court to the inner court controlled by a gatehouse. There was also a springhouse that sat on the hillside and provided water for the priory. Henry VIII dissolved the priory in 1539. The buildings were left abandoned until Thomas Lascelles purchased the site in 1653, when he renovated it into a private home.