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Nostell Priory, Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°39′8″N, 1°23′30″W)
Nostell Priory
SE 403 175
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now West Yorkshire
medieval York
  • Barbara English
  • Rita Wood
22 April 2010, 02 Jun 2016

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Feature Sets

The present Nostell Priory, an 18thc country house in the care of the National Trust, was built on the site of a medieval Augustinian priory, of which nothing is now visible.

According to Pevsner 'Of the Augustinian priory...nothing is preserved', although his footnote reads 'Mr Pace [George Pace senior] tells me that many stones, carved and moulded, are stored in outbuildings.' Some stones were seen in 1989 by Kit Galbraith ‘in the cowshed near the entrance gate’. Currently, loose carved stones are stored in the stables and in the cellars of the house. Some of these may be from the estate, others collected by Charles Winn in the early 19thc. Nothing of 12thc date has been found in recent years in excavation in the stables area.

Selected stones that might be from the Romanesque period are described in this report. Seven items were identified. Items 1 and 2 were in the stable block. Items 3 to 7 had been brought in from outside near the gate prior to our visit in 2010 and had dry moss still attached. These were stored in a cellar of the house.


Nostell, founded c. 1122, was among the first Augustinian priories established in Yorkshire, having reputedly been the site of a hermitage (VCH III, 231). The priory ‘stood to the SE of the present house, and ruins were still there in 1765’ (Pevsner 1967, 380).


Loose Sculpture


No certain provenance has been established for the loose sculptures described in this report: those seen in the cellars are likely to be from the Augustinian priory, but those in the stables may have been collected by the owners of the country house from elsewhere. The vast majority of the collection of loose stones at Nostell is hard to provenance, as 19thc owners especially Charles Winn were great collectors: see the glass in Wragby church. For the suggestion that Norton may have been the base for the designer of sculptural schemes at Melbourne (Derbyshire) and Liverton (West Yorkshire), see Wood 2006a, 147 and Wood 2006b, 133-4.

Item 1, the font, might be compared to the fragment of a font at Everton, Notts, which must have had an intersecting arcade and is carved in relatively high relief.

Item 8, the column base, has certain similarities to bases in Selby Abbey, SW crossing pier, and Brayton parish church doorway bases (both YW)


R. Wood, 'The Romanesque Church at Melbourne', Derbyshire Archaeology Journal, 126 (2006), 127-168.

J. C. Dickinson, The Origins of the Austin Canons and their Introduction into England, London 1950, 120-21.

N. Pevsner and E. Radcliffe., The Buildings of England: Yorkshire: West Riding, 2nd ed., Harmondsworth 1967, 380.

Victoria County History of Yorkshire, vol. III, reprinted 1974.

R. Wood, 'The Romanesque Chancel arch at Liverton, North Riding', Yorkshire Archaeology Journal 78 (2006b), 111-143.