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Tynemouth Priory

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Tynemouth Priory, on the east coast of Northumberland, England, occupied the site of an earlier Saxon church built first in wood, then in stone, in the seventh century, and famous as the burial-place of St. Oswin, king and martyr. Plundered and burnt several times by the Danes, and frequently rebuilt, it was granted in 1074 to the Benedictine monks of Yarrow, and, with them, annexed to Durham Abbey. In the reign of William Rufus, Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, re-peopled Tynemouth with monks from St. Albans, and it became a cell of that abbey, remaining so until the Dissolution. The Norman Church of Sts. Mary and Oswin was built by Earl Robert about 1100, and 120 years later was greatly enlarged, a choir 135 feet long with aisles being added beyond the Norman apse, while the nave was also lengthened. East of the choir and chancel was added about 1320 an exquisite Lady-chapel, probably built by the Percy family, which had lately acquired the great Northumberland estates of the de Vescis. The first prior of the re-founded monastery was Remigius, and the last was Robert Blakeney, who on 12 Jan., 1539, surrendered the priory to Henry VIII, he himself, with fifteen monks and four novices, signing the deed of surrender, which is still extant, with the beautiful seal of the monastery appended to it. A pension of £80 was granted to Blakeney, and small pittances to the monks ; and the priory site and buildings were bestowed first on Sir Thomas Hilton, and later, under Edward VI, on the Duke of Northumberland. Colonel Villars, governor of Tynemouth Castle under William III and Anne, had a lease of the priory, and id irreparable damage to the remaining buildings. Practically nothing is now left except the roofless chancel, one of the most beautiful fragments of thirteenth-century architecture in England.


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