Southwick Priory

Southwick Priory

Infobox monastery
name = Southwick Priory

caption =
full = Our Lady of Southwick
other_names =
order =
established = 1133
disestablished = 7 April 1538
mother =
diocese =
churches =
founder = Henry I
dedication =
people =
location = Portchester and Southwick, Hampshire, England
coord =
oscoor =
remains = Church at Portchester, one wall and earthworks at Southwick
public_access = To churches

Southwick Priory was a priory of Augustinian canons originally founded in Portchester Castle and later transferred to Southwick, Hampshire, England.


In 1133 Henry I founded a priory of Austin canons in the church of St. Mary, Portchester, within the walls of Portchester Castle. The foundation charter gave to the canons the church of Portchester, timber for fencing, building and fuel, common pasture in the wood of Hingsdon; the manor of Candover; and a hide of land in each of Southwick and Applestead. By the early part of the thirteenth century the priory is referred to in charters as "Southwick Priory" and it is believed to have moved to the site in Southwick c.1145-1153.

12th to 16th centuries

Towards the end of the middle ages, the priory became a renowned centre of pilgrimage. In September, 1510 Henry VIII passed through Southwick and made an offering of 6s. 8d. at Our Lady of Southwick. In 1538, shortly before the suppression, John Husee, a solicitor and servant of the Lisles, wrote to Lord Lisle that "Pilgrimage saints goeth down apace as Our Lady of Southwick, the Blood of Hales, St. Saviour's and others." And Leland mentions the fame of the pilgrimage to Our Lady of Southwick.

By the dissolution, the priory had gained the manors of Southwick with the rectory, Newland, Hannington, Sutton Scotney, 'Moundesmer,' Preston Candover, 'Oldfishborne,' Farlington with a fishery, Denmead Molens, Clanveld and Aldbourn, Weralles in Dorchester with the rectory, Colmer, Stubbington, Hoe, West Boarhunt, Boarhunt, Harbert and Bury; the rectories of Nutley, Swindon, Portsea, Portsmouth and 'Wanstede,' and lands and rents in Prior's Dean, the city of Winchester and Andover.


in 1535, the Valor Ecclesiasticus estimated the annual value of the priory £257 4s. 4d. But one of the canons, James Gunwyn, wrote to Cromwell on 20 January, 1536 claiming:

We are bound by the will of William Wykeham to have daily five masses in our church, which have not been said for more than forty years. On 26 May last the Commissioners sat in our place to ascertain the yearly value of our lands, that a tenth part might be assessed according to Act of Parliament, when my master (the prior) delivered them a book of the yearly rents which was not in all points made truly. Also on 22 September last we had a visitation of our house by Dr. Layton, when we had certain injunctions given us to be observed, several of which have been neglected hitherto. I send you this information in discharge of my oath of obedience, and would have done it earlier if I could have had a trusty messenger, for if my master knew of my writing he would convey away the plate, money and jewels in his keeping.
A letter to Lord Lisle of 16 March, 1538, stated that the priory was to be suppressed, and that 'Our Lady of Southwick' was taken down. On 7 April, 1538 the surrender was signed by the prior, William Norton, and twelve of the canons. James Gunwyn's signature is next to the prior's.

Prior Norton received the large pension of £66 13s. 4d.


The priory came into the possession of John White, a servant of Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton. He pulled down the church and converted the prior's lodgings and other parts of the conventual buildings into a private house.

Present Day

The house that replaced the priory was burnt down in 1750, the site is now occupied by Southwick House. Of the priory itself, one section of wall and some earthworks survive. Some remnants of the priory church may survive, transferred and reset in the parish church of St James.

The church of St Mary at Portchester survives, inside the Roman wall of Porchester Castle, returned to parochial use. It is substantially a Norman building, and hence the one the priory originally used. No trace of the conventual buildings survive above ground except for some drain openings and the marks of the abutment of the cloister against the south wall of the nave.

The priory estates at Southwick are still intact as the Southwick Estate.


* [ "A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 2", The Victoria County History 1973]
* "The Buildings of England: Hampshire and the Isle of Wight" Nikolaus Pevsner and David Lloyd

External links

* [ of Priory]
* [ from the Priory]

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