The Monk's Way - Felley Priory
This page was added to the site on 02 May 2004

Main Entrance
In the previous instalment about The Monk's Way, we discovered that Beauvale Priory was founded in 1343 as a Carthusian monastery. Continuing a little further northwards from Beauvale we soon reach the highest and most northerly point in this project at Felley where Felley Priory pre-dates that of Beauvale by almost two hundred years. It was founded in 1156 for Augustinian or Black Canons and like Beauvale, very little of the original structure remains; the site today being occupied by a long low Elizabethan house.
The Priory was founded by the Lord of Annesley, Ralph also known as Raddulph Britto and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It fell victim to Henry VIII in 1536, when it was valued at just under £41. Later that century a new smaller house was built, which was added to in 1886. In 1644 it was owned by Gilbert Millington, a Parliamentarian and during the civil war it was garrisoned and plundered by the Royalist army of the Marquis of Newcastle. This doorway on the northern side of the house looks to be one of the oldest parts of the building.
Tradesmen's Entrance 
Felley Priory is now owned by the Chaworth-Musters family who have lived here since 1974 when Robert P. Chaworth-Musters, the descendant of the marriage between Mary Ann Chaworth and John Jack Musters, moved here from Annesley Hall. Since that time, the gardens have been developed and are now a well known local attraction. The present layout actually dates from 1976 and visitors reach the gardens via this entrance on the south-eastern side of the house.
South-Eastern Side 
The Elizabethan House was added to in 1886 and during the 1890's the gardens were terraced on the site of the old priory. Neatly manicured lawns and paved paths are the sight that first greet the visitor but there is much more to be found within the boundary. The house stands at an elevation of over 600 feet above sea level in quite an exposed position but shelter is provided by yew hedges which were planted by the Chaworth-Musters family as protection for the herbaceous borders enabling them to be in flower from May to October each year.
These pictures were taken in September and are proof, if any were need, that the shelter provided by the hedges fulfils its objective. The gardens also have pergolas, knot and rose gardens as well as the herbaceous borders, a pond, an orchard and even a mediaeval garden.
Old Wall
Planting has been done in a sympathetic manner to complement existing structures and walls and even though little of the Priory now remains, it would not be difficult to imagine a monk or two tending the plants. When I first started this project, there seemed to be very little on the internet about Felley but enter the words "Felley Priory" into a search engine now and a number of results are returned. I have only touched on the history of the Priory here and only because it is known that monks of the religious establishments at Lenton, Newstead, Dale, Beauvale and Felley had land and mining interests in the Erewash Valley as early as the fourteenth century. If you would like to know more, I would recommend a visit to the Nottinghamshire History and Archaeology site to read about the history of Felley Priory. To see more of my images of the gardens, you can open a new window by clicking here.
In the next part of this project our exploration of the Monk's Way returns to the outskirts of Nottingham at Strelley where we will start to follow the route to Ilkeston and beyond.

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