Corner of the charter displaying the initial R, Latin text
and illustration depicting the Prioress and nuns adoring the Virgin and Child.
Esholt Priory (1184-1540) was the
Cistercian Priory of St Leonard, it was a small community of nuns
who lived very simply.
They had an income of approximately £19 a year which
they supplemented with giving absolution to rich sinners.
Over time they
acquired land in the area and sold timber, they acted as teachers to young
children and also operated a brewery.
This was so popular with local men that
in 1535 the nuns were ordered not to keep an ale house within the grounds of
the convent and to keep the doors locked at night.
In common with other Catholic houses and
churches the nunnery fell foul of the Reformation and the Priory was closed in
Little evidence remains of it, in the cellars of Esholt Hall are two
windows thought to be part of the Priory.