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Louth, Priory Hotel, Lincolnshire

(53°21′59″N, 0°0′23″E)
Louth, Priory Hotel
TF 336 874
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Lincolnshire
now Lincolnshire
  • Thomas E. Russo
22 September 2000

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Feature Sets

In 1818 the local artist and architect Thomas Espin, FSA, built this Gothic villa, which is now called the Priory Hotel. On the grounds near the lake is a folly that he had constructed from sculptural fragments, which came from Louth Abbey.


Louth Abbey was founded on the marshy Isle of Haverholme in 1137 on land given by Bishop Alexander of Lincoln to the Cistercians. In 1139, at the preference of a large group of monks arriving from the motherhouse of Fountains (Yorkshire), the house was moved to Louth were it flourished as a major player in the county wool trade. Between 1227-46 there is record of 66 monks and 150 lay brothers at Louth Abbey. The 14thc. and 15thc. saw the slow decline of the abbey, which was suppressed in 1536 (see Knowles and Hadcock). In 1818, Thomas Espin collected a number of sculptural fragments from the ruins of Louth Abbey for the construction of his home, Louth Park. He combined the Romanesque fragments recorded here with other medieval pieces to form this garden folly for his estate. Espin died in 1822 and his home has been in the hands of various private owners since that point. For several decades it was a private school. In the 1970s his home became The Priory Hotel.


Exterior Features



Based on the few architectural details we know, Fergusson has suggested a date in the 1160s for construction of Louth Abbey. If the polygonal profiles of the capitals here at the Priory Hotel can be accepted as a general indicator of date, then a date in the second half of the 12thc. would fit with that notion. Halsey, on the other hand, believes the rib profiles from the chancel suggest a start date in the 1140s.


Victoria County History: Lincolnshire, 2. London, 1906, 138-41.

P. Fergusson, Architecture of Solitude: Cistercian Abbeys in Twelfth-Century England. Princeton, 1984, 51-52, 131-33.

D. Knowles and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses in England and Wales. London, (1953) 1971, 120-22.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire. London, 1990, 544.

R. Halsey, 'The Earliest Architecture of the Cistercians in England', in C. Norton and D. Park, Cistercian Art and Architecture in the British Isles, Cambridge, 1986, 84-85.