Castle Acre Priory

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One of the largest and best preserved monastic sites in England, the foundation of Castle Acre Priory in about 1090 sprang directly from a visit by William de Warenne II and his wife Gundrada to the great French monastery of Cluny. So impressed were they by its beauty and holiness that they vowed to introduce the Cluniac order of monks to England. The Cluniac love of decoration is everywhere reflected in the extensive ruins of Castle Acre Priory, whose great 12th-century church directly imitated that of Cluny itself. Its beautiful west end, standing almost to its full height, displays tiered ranks of intersecting round arches: it forms an attractive group with the late medieval porch, part timber-framed and part flintchequered, and the extremely well-preserved prior's lodging. A mansion in itself, this includes a first-floor chapel retaining traces of wall-paintings, and a private chamber with two fine oriel windows. There is much more to see at the priory, including the substantial remains of many of the buildings round the cloister. The recreated herb garden next to the visitor centre grows herbs which the monks would have used for medicinal, culinary and decorative purposes. Visitors can find out more about this beautiful priory from our exhibition, display of artefacts, site model and audio tour, which includes recordings of a 15th-century chant from a song book from Castle Acre.

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1/4 mile (0.40 km) West of village of Castle Acre, 5 miles (8 km) North of Swaffham


Opening times (April - September):
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM10:00 AM - 5:00 PM10:00 AM - 5:00 PM10:00 AM - 5:00 PM10:00 AM - 5:00 PM10:00 AM - 5:00 PM10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Opening times (October - March):
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM10:00 AM - 4:00 PM--10:00 AM - 4:00 PM10:00 AM - 4:00 PM10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
*Closed 24 December - 26 December and 1 January



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