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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Veronica on 04/21/2017

Frank ( happy anniversary )

Yes the point is that a higher percentage of the 130 skeletons had signs of Paget's than would normally be found in a population generally so it is likely that there was a genetic disposition in the locality.
It is amazing what can be discovered these days.

frankbeswick on 04/20/2017

Many monasteries drew their members from local people, so genetic diseases common in an area would be present in a monastery.

Veronica on 04/20/2017

Derdriu

Great point ! Yes indeed, it is believed that having so many together may indicate that it was part of the same extended family. But then Norton was a bit of a medical centre and people went there for help.

I think there must have been some genetic disposition.

DerdriuMarriner on 04/20/2017

Veronica, Thank you for yet another beautiful tour! My favorites are the bee hotel, the espaliering and the undercroft.
Do you know why so many of the burials from the community indicate the prevalence of Paget's disease? Could it be that many were members of an extended family?

Veronica on 04/17/2017

Thank you. You are right but not only does the history go back thousands of years but people have done much to preserve it too, as Angela points out.

Norton is reasonably priced and there is more to discover under the ground too.

blackspanielgallery on 04/17/2017

It is always interesting to see images f ancient places, and read the histories. Your country goes back with a rich history.

Veronica on 04/15/2017

Angela, Thank you so much.

The Priory has been there for visitors for years now but this new development has boosted numbers, and deservedly so. In fact, numbers have doubled so far. The History is beautifully preserved.

I can always "feel " the presence of people in a place and walking around the old areas gives a sense of " people in the past " walking there.

Norton is so reasonably priced too. £6.70 ( approx US$ 7 ) for an adult . £5.95 for over 60's Children under 5 free. Children over 5 £4.75 ( approx. US$ 5 )

The website is here. http://nortonpriory.org/

AngelaJohnson on 04/14/2017

I'm so thrilled people are dedicated to preserving the past. The Priory is beautiful and also educational. I enjoyed your photographs, too.

Veronica on 04/14/2017

yes that s the impression I got from being there but I have done an edit in the interests of accuracy.

frankbeswick on 04/14/2017

I have just done some research on the matter of Augustinian canons, and it seems that the date and place of their origin goes back probably into the time of Charlemagne, but the institutions were not formed into a regular order then. However, they do go back into the pre-Norman period, so an Anglo-Saxon community of canons regular, who kept the rule of Augustine, is quite possible.


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