Norton Priory, Runcorn, Cheshire

by Veronica

A tasteful and sympathetic re-development of a much loved attraction has lost none of its original charm. Today, I went to Norton Priory, Cheshire.

Whenever I hear about a well loved site being "redeveloped" or "improved" my heart sinks into my boots and I ask myself if a place has been "ruined " in my opinion.

My fears were in vain when I visited the newly developed Norton Priory today. It's excellent in every way and the development has lost none of the original features whilst adding new ones.

Visitors to the NW England, please take time out of your schedule and call in to Norton Priory, where you will get a taste of hundreds of years of British History all on one site.

I am very intuitive and always have been. The moment I stepped into the new Reception area, I "felt" that I had walked in to something remarkable. The two staff members on the desk were welcoming and knowledgeable. Nothing was too much trouble for Lesley. She knew everything that we could possibly need for an enjoyable visit.

I am a historian of course and own a small history business so I was interested to see how the subject matter was presented. It was all excellent.

Take a look at what I found today.

This is not a history of Norton although that is involved. This is a description of a gentle, quiet and wonderful tourist attraction.

The photos are my own and were taken by me today.

REFERENCE MATERIAL
http://www.augustinian.org/order/
Norton Priory guide book

old map of local priories and abbeys
old map of local priories and abbeys

Norton History in a nutshell

(  EDIT ) A Community of Augustinian Canons not to be confused with Augustinians who were founded in 1244,  needed a larger building and moved from Runcorn to Norton in 1134 to build a new Priory.  

The Augustinian Canons  worked in the community and helped the people. Locals were welcome to visit the Priory and receive medical treatment as it was then.

The Priory was constantly being added to over the centuries and developed, becoming  a private house during Tudor times, 16thC. The family sided with Parliament  against King Charles 1 during the 17thC English Civil War. A Georgian house was built on the site during the 18th C.  The house was sold in 1921 and mainly demolished in 1928.

Thus Norton's history has spanned over hundreds of years and there is still evidence of it around.

St Christopher

I was delighted to see the St Christopher Statue was still at Norton. It is made of local sandstone, stands about 12 ft tall and depicts the legend of St Christopher carrying the Christ child across the river. The image of St Christopher is continued in a stained glass window in The Undercroft. How beautiful!

The statue dates from the late 1300's.

St Christopher
St Christopher
St Christopher window
St Christopher window

Tiles

Norton has a large collection of beautiful, mosaic Medieval tiles cut in clay.  The tiles were made on site and a tile kiln was found by archaeologists working on the site.  

Beautiful tiles
Beautiful tiles

The Undercroft

The Undercroft is the only remaining part of the building from the Medieval era. It was a large storage area for food. drink and cloth. The ceilings are magnificent and full of medieval arches as seen below. The storage areas are still evident. It was built in the late 12thC.

The undercroft arched ceilings
The undercroft arched ceilings
Storage facility
Storage facility

The Cloister reconstruction

The Cloister was at the centre of the Priory and part of it has been reconstructed in the museum area. Look at the detail.

The ruins outside show how thick the Priory walls were.

13thC Cloister arcade
13thC Cloister arcade
The ruin walls
The ruin walls

The bell

Archaeologists discovered the remains of a bell foundry at Norton and this bell is believed to be a faithful copy of the HUGE  Priory Bell.

The replica bell
The replica bell

The reconstructed herb garden

A monastic herb garden has been developed based on designs from other cathedrals and abbeys. Raised beds have been used and there are several herbs for medicinal uses which reflect Norton's past as a place of healing. Here are just a couple of herbs.

Herb garden

Herbs
Herbs
Lungwort in herb garden
Lungwort in herb garden

Medicine and Paget's Disease

Osteo- archaeologists have discovered that many of the skeletons at Norton have signs of Paget's disease which can have viral, genetic or environmental causes. The disease causes bone malformations.

Medicine

Skeleton with signs of Paget's Disease
Skeleton with signs of Paget's Disease
Medical equipment !
Medical equipment !

These are some replicas of medicinal equipment used at the time.

Walled garden

The best walled garden I have seen
The gate
The gate

The walled garden is the best I have seen. It is completely enclosed. Cleverly, they had a flower pot people trail for the children to follow and find. This made it far more interesting for little children and our grandson loved it. The flower pot people had names such as Harry Pot- ter , Beatrix Pot-ter.

Apple trees were trained against the walls and the Spring flowers were spectacular. Look at those colours placed together.

Last of all, there was a different type of Bee Hotel, this one for solitary bees.

 

Flower pot people search

The flower pot people
The flower pot people
Flower pot people
Flower pot people
Flower pot people
Flower pot people

Flowers

Stunning flowers
Stunning flowers
The colours
The colours
The combination of red and blue here. Beautiful
The combination of red and blue here. Beautiful
Trees trained against the walls
Trees trained against the walls

And another bee hotel

Bee hotel
Bee hotel

Norton Priory

What a wonderful day at Norton. It is a must-visit if you have a chance so just GO THERE.

It is clean, accessible, fascinating, beautifully maintained, well staffed,  soothing and restful. Enjoy it.

We will return.

Updated: 04/14/2017, Veronica
 
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frankbeswick on 01/08/2019

I had forgotten that you were in Florida. Florida is rather different from Britain. When looking up bees in my books I I noted that even Southern Britain has more bee species than we have in Northern England, so we are not well blessed with variety. We do, though, have mason bees, which like to tunnel, so they may be attracted to the bee hotel. I have definitely seen them on my allotment.

Maybe I will do an article on bee hotels, but not today. I am relaxing today.

Veronica on 01/07/2019

He knows he is my favourite brother. I am his only sister so he hasn't much choice in sisters.

dustytoes on 01/07/2019

That is good info Frank, but I doubt it applies to Florida. We have bugs, and bees, year round. There is also no shortage of blooming plants, although not necessarily in my yard. I have searched online and found info at the University of Florida site with a page about "Pollinator Hotels".
BTW... you are the "favorite" brother Frank... did you read that?
I think you should do a whole Wizzley on this subject, or have you begun that already?

Veronica on 01/07/2019

Frank..... Maybe a bee hotel article is timely

Veronica on 01/07/2019

great information

frankbeswick on 01/07/2019

You can set up bee hotel whenever you like, but you will have to wait for results, as the bees are currently [January] in their hives/cells/nests and unlikely to move until spring. The best strategy to take is to research bee-friendly flowers and plan to plant them in your garden. The best way is to plant a succession of flowers that will provide summer-long nectar for the bees.

In fall, don't be worried if you see a tunnel in your bee hotel blocked with mud, for this is a sign that a female bee has laid her egg there.

Veronica on 01/07/2019

Thank you. Dusty. If you don't find enough information about them on Wizzley then I am sure my favourite brother Frank would have some ideas if you asked him. In fact... he's likely to give his ideas whether he is asked or not. :)

dustytoes on 01/07/2019

You two will be the first to know if I have success!

Veronica on 01/07/2019

The point Frank makes is though that his bees were nesting in WOODEN pallets. So maple logs, bits of wood of different sizes , wooden logs sound ideal .
If you go ahead, Frank and I would LOVE to hear about it here on Wizzley and who knows your efforts may inspire others.

Veronica on 01/07/2019

Dusty
You have nothing to lose by trying to make one. If anything, they are a great talking point . I am not an expert on them. I do know that having two has increased the bee population in my garden. Mine are for solitary bees .


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