Durham Priory

Durham Priory was a Benedictine priory associated with Durham Cathedral, in Durham in the north-east of England. Its head was the Prior of Durham. It was founded in 1083 as a Roman Catholic monastery, but after Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540 the priory was dissolved and the cathedral was taken over by the Church of England.[1]

Priory of St Cuthbert, Durham
The cloister of Durham Cathedral
Monastery information
OrderBenedictine
Established1083
Disestablished1539
Mother houseIndependent
Dedicated toSt Cuthbert
DioceseDurham
Site
LocationDurham, County Durham, England
Visible remainsIntact
Public accessYes

Historically, Durham Priory was one of the most important land owners in County Durham along with the Bishop of Durham until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. Until then, Durham Priory was home to between 50 and 100 Benedictine monks. Durham was the largest and richest of the monasteries associated with Durham; the other cells were in Coldingham Priory (until 1462), Jarrow and Monk Wearmouth, Finchale, Farne, Holy Island, Lythe, Stamford and Durham College, Oxford (after 1381).

The Bishop of Durham was the temporal lord of the palatinate, often referred to as a Prince-bishop. The bishop competed for power with the Prior of Durham who held his own courts for his free tenants. An agreement dated about 1229, known as Le Convenit was entered into to regulate the relationship between the two magnates.[2]

After the Benedictine monastery was dissolved, the last Prior of Durham, Hugh Whitehead, became the first dean of the cathedral's secular chapter.[3]

Durham Priory held many manuscripts; in the 21st century, steps were under way to digitise the books, originating from the 6th to the 16th century, owned by the Benedictine monastery. The project was being undertaken in a partnership by Durham University and Durham Cathedral.[4][5]