Butley Priory, Butley, Suffolk
The grade-I listed gatehouse of Butley Priory, built under prior William de Geystone (1311-1322), along with the arch that once led out of the south transept of the church, are virtually all that remains of the Augustinian Priory founded here in 1171. Situated deep in the sandy heathlands of east Suffolk, it originally comprised a magnificent collection of buildings, covering an area of twenty acres enclosed by a stone wall.
Unique features of the building are its extensive armorial frieze on the north side and exuberant flushwork decoration. It is thought that the stone used in the building of the priory came from the valley of the Yonne in France, and that it was brought up the Butley River on barges. A canal was cut to bring the stone to the wharf only 200 yards south of the Priory church. The plan of the original site is known from the excavations carried out in 1930 by Montague Rendell, scholar and ex headmaster of Winchester, who bought the gatehouse in 1926.
Such was Dr. Rendall's passion for the building that he spent his last penny on the restoration work, and was forced to sell the property in his later years to Sir Bernard Greenwell Bart, who generously allowed him to live out his life at Butley. The present tenants, the Cavendish family, have lived here since 1987 and are continuing the process of making the gatehouse into a comfortable family home.
Tour led by historian of the interior of the house, including the great hall, drawing room and kitchen which all have vaulted ceilings, first floor bedrooms with impressive arched windows, and front exterior, which has the armorial frieze. Walks around the south garden, grounds and monks’ fish ponds.
... an absolutely fascinating visit, our guide excelled herself and received lots of accolades from the group ...
The postcode should work on sat navs. For those without, from Woodbridge head towards Melton and past the railway station on your right. Follow this road to the small roundabout and go left, then follow the road for approx. 3 miles past Bromeswell rugby club and through the forest, the turning is the next right after the Rendlesham Forest Centre turning and is signposted Butley Priory.
Tea, coffee and biscuits
Ground floor access only and there are some small ledges/steps to get over.