Newburgh Priory, North Yorkshire

It was Robert de Mowbray who established a priory of Augustinian canons on this site in 1145, from lands granted to his father by William the Conqueror. Very little is known of the subsequent history of Newburgh Priory, or its community, until it was dissolved in 1538 by Henry VIII's commissioners, Anthony de Bellasis and his brother Richard.

In 1546 Newburgh Priory was sold to Anthony de Bellasis for £1,062 and it was his nephew, William, who converted the building into a fine Tudor residence, much of which can still be seen today.

Between the years 1720-1760, Thomas Fauconberg, Lord of the Bedchamber to King George III, and current owner of the property, embarked on a major modernisation of Newburgh Priory, which included the building of the striking bow fronted block to the east. There are several fine rooms in the house, namely the Dining Room and the small and large Drawing Rooms, all of which contain impressive collections of furniture, porcelain, and family portraits. However, some of Newburgh Priory's less grand rooms also have an interesting story to tell.

The Cursed Room dates back to 1758 when Lord Fauconberg was re-modelling Newburgh Priory as a Georgian home. Whilst the work was being undertaken, a major fire broke out and a maid lost her life. It is said that Henry, Lord Fauconberg's son, could have saved the girl but he chose to put his own safety first. As a result she 'cursed' the room stating that if ever the lord of the house were to attempt to finish the room, the son and heir would meet an untimely death. In 1889 George Orby Wombwell attempted to do just that, but within days of commencing the work he was informed that his eldest son had been killed in India. Since that time the room has remained unfinished!

Newburgh Priory is also reputed to be the final resting place of Oliver Cromwell. It is said that Mary, Countess of Fauconberg and Cromwell's 3rd daughter, used her considerable influence to rescue his remains after they were removed from Westminster Abbey, following the reformation. Originally the stone tomb was hidden in the roof space, but when the house was remodelled and the roof was raised, the tomb was incorporated as part of the room itself. The family has never allowed the tomb to be opened, so the contents remain a mystery to this day.

In 1947, when the Priory was in use as Pannal Ash School, another serious fire broke out causing much damage to the building. The Royal suite of rooms and stone staircase were not restored during the major renovations in 1965, and the long gallery wing still remains as an empty shell.

The grounds contain a water garden, walled garden, topiary yews and pleasant woodland walks.


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