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Kirkham Priory: Refectory, Yorkshire, East Riding

(54°4′55″N, 0°52′35″W)
Kirkham Priory: Refectory
SE 736 657
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
  • Rita Wood
13 Apr 2007, 20 and 27 May 2016

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Feature Sets

The refectory is on the S side of the cloister. It was rebuilt in the 13th century, but is thought to have reused the doorway of the late 12th-century phase.

For History, Bibliography etc., see report for Kirkham Priory: the church.


Exterior Features



The only comparison for this doorway, at least in Augustinian houses, is the doorway at Norton Priory, Cheshire. That doorway is without context, but is likely to have been made for the entrance from the W cloister walk into the nave of the church, and would be of c.1190; it is compared to the chapter house entrance of St Mary's Abbey, York, and doorways at Selby Abbey (Greene 1989, 102-5). None of these have the singular fine playfulness of the doorway at Kirkham, which is likely to be earlier.

Ornament on jambs of second order of refectory doorway:

These ornamented domes recall the almost-lost motifs on the jambs of the doorway at Askham Bryan (YW), which I think I likened to ‘jellymoulds’. Here they remind me of sea-urchin fossils.

Label to refectory doorway:

The double chamfer with small ball ornament on both chamfers, is also seen on the doorway of a humble little church at Scawton (YN); there might be a connection via Rievaulx. A pattern using three- and four-fold sunken motifs similar to those on the face of the label, is included with others carved on wooden panels on the south doors Fishlake (YW); the panels are said to be later than the sculpture of the doorway.


J. P. Greene, Norton Priory; the archaeology of a medieval religious house, Cambridge 1989.