Priory Buildings

The Size and Layout of Bridlington Priory Buildings


The Priory Church (St Mary’s) as we see it today was only the nave of the church in monastic times. The total length of the church in those days was 122 metres – almost as long as York Minster.

There were also other buildings around the church associated with this Augustinian monastery, of which only the Bayle survives. There is documentary evidence giving some details of the buildings long gone, and some archaeological excavations have taken place. There is a model of the monastery and its buildings in the Priory Church based on all this evidence. It shows where the canons (monks) slept (dormitory), ate (refectory) and studied (cloister, library), and where the sick were treated

In addition old maps show the fish ponds, and recent geophysical surveys and building work have encountered them. The canons (monks) ate fish on 175 days each year: namely all Fridays, some Saints’ days and the whole of Lent.

Suggested activities

  1. From the plans and models, get pupils to superimpose the buildings onto modern maps (you will need the largest scale, and could use the online OS street map, ).
  2. Using the plans as evidence, explore what life might have been like for the monks living there, what jobs might they have done, resources might they have etc.
  3. Combine with research to then select one of the inhabitants of the monastery and write a diary entry for that person . (Hint: They had to work in a lot of services in church each day – see list on next page)
  4. Compare the map of old town Bridlington with one of the town as currently is and look to see how the town has altered.

What did Augustinian canons do?

  1. Prayer – the daily ‘Opus Dei’, services said and sung:
    1. Matins at first light
    2. Prime (First hour) at dawn
    3. Terce (Third hour) at 9.00am
    4. Sext (Sixth hour) at noon.
    5. None (Ninth hour) at 3.00pm
    6. Vespers at sundown.
    7. Compline at 9.00pm
    8. Vigils at midnight.
  2. Study – of the Scriptures and other books in the Priory library.
    1. Reading the Scriptures.
    2. Explaining the Scriptures.
    3. Copying the manuscripts.
  3. Hospitality – supporting travellers and needy local people.
    1. Food and a bed for the night (‘Bed and Breakfast’).
    2. Caring for the sick in the monastic hospital.
    3. Giving food to the poor at the gate.
There were also outdoor activities to do with farming etc.