- St Neots Priory
St Neots Priory was a Benedictine monastery in what is now the town of
St Neotsin the English county of Cambridgeshirewithin the district of Huntingdonshire.
A monastery was first founded here in about
974by Earl Aelric (or Leofric) and his wife Aelfleda (or Ethelfleda), who granted it two hides of land, part of the manor of Eynesbury, later called the manor of St Neots. Its site is uncertain, though it may have been where the present parish church stands. It is said that the relics of the Cornish Saint Neotwere obtained illicitly from Neotstoke (now St Neot) in Cornwalland brought to the priory in order that it might have relics to attract pilgrims; hence the name of the town.
Saint Anselm, abbot of Bec Abbeyin Normandyand later to be Archbishop of Canterbury, apparently visited the shrine of St. Neot in 1078-9. In 1081he sent eighteen monks from Bec to replace the Saxon monks, and had it re-founded by Richard Fitz Gilbertand his wife Rothais or Rohais, lords of the manor, as a Benedictine priory dependent on Bec. In 1113 Rothais granted the whole manor of St. Neot's to the priory, which it held until its suppression.
At some point, quite possibly at the time of its re-foundation as a Benedictine priory, the monastery moved to a site on the riverside adjacent to a ford subsequently replaced by a bridge, a little way north of the present Market Square.
Because it was an
alien priory(i.e., the dependency of a French mother-house) it suffered difficulties whenever there were hostilities between France and England, and particularly during the Hundred Years’ War. Its property was continually seized for this reason, until it was eventually given its independence from Bec in 1409.
The priory was dissolved in
After the Dissolution the buildings were pulled down and nothing now remains above ground. The last remaining structure, a gateway, was demolished in the late 18th century: a plaque marks the position.
* [http://www.stneotsmuseum.org.uk St. Neots Museum]
* [http://www.stneots-tc.gov.uk St. Neots Town Council]
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