The Priory

This was a very ancient building, much of it was rebuilt by Rev Edmund Mortlock, who gives the following description of the house and his discoveries during the alterations. Called the 'Rectory' until 1939.

" The house seems to have originated in the conversion of a small chapel into a dwelling. The dimensions of the chapel were about thirty five feet form east to west and about sixteen feet in width, from north to south. Its termination to the west was that of the present drawing room. The whole wall running from the study, (now the dining room), fireplace, across the hall, and through the drawing room, (separating it from the dining room), is the original wall of the chapel.

The wall in the hall next to the garden is also the original wall on that side. the remainder, (standing when I came), was pulled down to enlarge the drawing room. On removing the wainscot of the west room, I discovered the piscina now in the hall. On examining the cellar, I found an opening in the north wall, having been evidently a piscina and ambry in one, the shelf remaining and the hinges of the old door still loose in the wall. the windows in the cellar are also clearly shaped as for a sacred edifice. Here, as in the chapel above, the piscina was to the north implying that the alter in each case was to the west. I discovered two openings, two or three inches deep in the north wall of the cellar, with bits of tiles let in.

I have surmised that while the alterations were being carried out on the church, which were extensive and in those days (the 15th century) requiring years to complete, two bodies of principle people were temporarily deposited in the priory chapel. By studying the walls of the chapel it would seem that only the ends of the coffins were supported, by the insertion into the wall. Access being provided for the purpose of a mass to be said over them. A beam supporting the chapel floor, still remains and is of great thickness.'

There is an absence of history of the chapel, Rev Mortlock adds he only ventured to guess, in the absence of other information.

In July 1904, archaeologists from Cambridge visited Moulton and an account of their visit appeared in a local newspaper. Part of the report says of the Priory, " The windows in the cellar were shaped as for a sacred building. The cellar was thus shown to have been used as a chapel or crypt. the style of the architecture of the window and piscina seems to correspond with that of the last alteration to the church-perpendicular. Of the origin of the chapel, nothing is known.

It may have been a Chantry, but if so, it was not included in the list of Chantries in the reign of Henry VIII.

Probably the Priory was connected with some monastic body. As there was both Vicar and Rector, the former would be one of the secular clergy in charge of the parish and the Rector may have been one of the regulars, a monk belong to some religious house, or there may have been some small religious community there, for whom a small chapel would be required".

Alterations carried out by the Rev Mortlock (1845-73) is what we see today of the priory, part of his renovation was to face the original structure with yellow bricks. His predecessor, Rev Wilson, enclosed the Priory with a flint wall and removed the "poor House" from its grounds. The Rev Mortlock writes " In the time of Mr Wilson, the Poor House and the stable of the Rectory stood in front of the present dining room, the village green running up to where the tall lime trees stood a few feet from the house. He got permission to remove the Poor House (now the cottage given by me for the maintenance of the school, having bought them from the parish) over the brook and to enclose the village green as far as the copper beech trees, the lower portion was allotted to the Rectory at the Enclosure.". He continued " Still the grounds of the Rectory were limited narrowly to the north, extending no further than the present lawn. The arable field and plantation to the east above the kitchen garden, all the pasture, the ground where the granary and the stables stood, all the ground where the orchard is, were part of a farm bought by Mr Wilson, sold to him by Christ's College Cambridge. These however were exchanged for other lands at the Enclosure and now form a portion of the Glebe.

I write this when nearly blind, but hope it will be legible and intelligible." April the 2nd 1855.

Priory Cottage belonged to the Priory until its sale in 1989. The two paddocks to the rear of the Priory were purchased from the church by Mrs Foster, who lived there from 1948 to 1975.

When the home of the Rector, events of the village were all held in the grounds and when Rev Child was rector, the barn was converted to be a social club for the young of the village, dances were held there.

The upkeep of the Priory must have been considerable, we know from the writings of Hereward John Child (son of Rev. Child, Rector 1916-28) that life there was a struggle, most of the Rectors having a private income.

The Priory ceased to be the Rectory in 1938, the house stood empty for two years, it was sold to Mr Fairfax-Lucy (1940-48). The Fairfax-Lucys had trouble with what was thought to be a poltergeist and has steps taken to have it exorcised.

It was then sold to Mrs Foster, then in 1975, to a Mr & Mrs Jennings, who sold it in 1981 to Karin and David Dobbie, who carried out major alterations and repairs. A fine conservatory was added to the house, a swimming pool and hard surface tennis court built in the gardens. A plot of land was sold on the right of the main entrance, for the building of one dwelling.

The Dobbies sold the Priory to Lady Carolyn and Mr Warren in 1992.

Major alterations were carried out by Lady Carolyn and Mr Warren, in late 1993, these include moving the kitchen and converting the attached garage back into living accommodation, a conversion which restored the building to its original use. Large patio laid 1998.

Her Majasty the Queen was sometime a guest. Lady Caroline and Mr Warren left the Priory on the 13th of July 2004, having sold to Newmarket trainer Sir Michael Stout.

By using our website you are consenting to our use of cookies.