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Prinknash Park (also known as St. Peter's Grange, Prinknash Abbey)6070

Introduction

A house was built overlooking a combe that was a hunting estate. It is now a base for a Benedictine community. Features include a chapel, kitchen garden, fishponds and a half-timbered gate lodge dating from around 1890.

Visitor Facilities

Cafe and toilets

Entrances

Originally there was only one entrance for carriages. It was on the Portway, the old road Gloucester to Cranham at about the same altitude. It leads directly into the west court of the house.

An offshoot from the drive went between the south side of the house and the wooded bank at the first floor level to the east court where the kitchens were situated.

King Henry VIII drive is an avenue of trees, now without any visible surface between them, to a likely entrance from the north at Folly House. The 1820 turnpike road now enters the park at that point, so another drive was constructed from that road. It enters the A46 just north of Cranham corner. There is a half-timbered lodge there designed by F W Waller in about 1890. From the A46 it appears to be a two-storey chalet but there is at least another storey below as the road is on a terrace.

Shortly after buying Prinknash Park in 1888 Thomas Dyer-Edwardes acquired the farm to the west and constructed a new drive from the Portway. It started from a new lodge besides Gastrell's Farm and with easy gradients it passed the kitchen garden to the house.

West Court

This used to be the principal entrance to the house and the drive led straight up to it. Now this entrance is no longer used and is in a lawn of a garden.

Entered through a stone gateway of 1900, possibly designed by Harold Brakspear, carved with heraldry to celebrate the marriage of Thomas Dyer-Edwardes's daughter, Nöelle, to the son of the Earl of Rothes. Above the gates are escutcheons. The escutcheon facing outwards is that of Dyer-Edwardes whilst the inner side bears the arms of Norman Evelyn Leslie, who married Thomas' only child in 1900.

In the north-west corner of the west courtyard is a gateway incorporating spandrels carved with the monograms of Queen Katherine of Aragon and Abbot Parker.

East Court

There was a Tudor knot garden in the East Court until at least 1928. Its design was illustrated on page 52 of 'Prinknash Abbey' (1987, history of The Old House, St Peter's Grange).

Icehouses

There were two icehouses in the hillside 50 yards away from the kitchen in the east court. These were probably demolished and may have been the site of a rock garden.

House

More bedrooms were needed to house all the monks so they added a prefabricated single storey range to provide extra accommodation between 1941 and 1953. It was constructed along the western terrace in line with the northern extent of the existing house.

The house lies at the top of a series of terraces. These must have been part of the improvements that Thomas Dyer-Edwardes instituted because they are not shown on the first series Ordnance Survey's 1:2500 scale maps.

Upper Terrace

The upper terrace, which stretches to the west of the historic house, is largely grass. The 1923 sale particulars describe a level broad gravel walk on it with a tennis lawn. It led to a summer house. It commands fine views to the north and the west.

A flight of stone steps leads to the rose gardens and at the lowest level a bowling green. As this is the rear entry to the farm buildings erected around the stables. Some decaying sheds now occupy the bowling green.

Rock and Normandy stone gardens were also mentioned in the 1923 sale particulars, though their location is uncertain today.

Stables

F W Waller designed the stables (situated north-east of the house) in 1888. He also added a building behind them in 1891 to house the electricity generator that was used until 1931.

The stables are at present the garages and nucleus of a farm, though there are plans to convert the stables to a retreat house.

A cottage is incorporated in the north wing of the stables. In 1923 a chauffeur lived there.

Walled Kitchen Garden

In the deep valley to the north is the kitchen garden. A high brick wall surrounds it. It was constructed on the northern side of a stream so slopes to the south. Its shape is irregular but basically circular. Its non-appearance on the 1775 plan, when a square kitchen garden was proposed indicates that it was built later.

The 1923 sale particulars described a fine old mulberry tree at its centre. Other features include

  • A lean-to glass peach house 18 metres long
  • 2 lean-to vineries
  • Fernery
  • Tomato house
  • Greenhouse
  • Cucumber and melon house
  • Forcing pits

Whilst outside the kitchen garden are a potting shed, fruit room, potato house and a gardener's house.

Bird and Deer Park

The monks wanted to generate income to fund development. The son of the illustrator Heath Robinson, Father Basil, opened a pottery shortly after World War 2. It used clay dug on the estate. Its wares proved popular. Visitors could look into the workshop from a raised walkway and buy its products from a shop and associated café. However it was unable to compete with foreign imports and it closed in 2003. At present it is used as a display area of a reproduction of the damaged mosaic that was installed in the Woodchester roman villa.

In 1970 the top ponds were enclosed for the water fowl housed in the Bird and Deer Park - another attraction. The foundation of the boat house that was shown on the 1883 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map at the head of the largest lake can still be found.

The Park

To provide a water supply from flowing water courses filtration is required. To avoid this springs can be capped underground. This was done in the case of a spring on a field boundary just to the west of King Henry VIII's Drive in the 18th century when a limestone ashlar building was erected over it. The Spring Building is now listed Grade II.

Apart from ponds in the bottom of the valley, others existed to the north-west of St Peter's Grange. This is close to the area that A P Garrod noted was saturated with fired clay fragments and charcoal (reported in the 1978 edition of Gloucester and District Archaeological Research Group's publication volume 12 of Glevensis). Thus it is likely to have been constructed for local industrial use.

There appears to have been no attempt at landscaping during the building of the Abbey. There was a new drive and a small amount of housing along the Abbey's drive.

Contact

Telephone

01793 445050

Official Website

Owners

  • Prinknash Abbey Trustees

    Prinknash Abbey, Cranham, Gloucestershire, GL4 8EX
Features
  • Terrace
  • Description: The upper terrace, which stretches to the west of the historic house, is largely grass.
  • Drive
  • Description: There is a one and quarter mile long drive from near Gastrells Farm.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Gate Lodge
  • Description: There is a half-timbered lodge designed by F W Waller in about 1890. From the A46 it appears to be a two-storey chalet but there is at least another storey below as the road is on a terrace.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Stable Block
  • Earliest Date:
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: The 1923 sale particulars described a fine old mulberry tree at its centre. Other features included a lean-to glass peach house 18 metres long, 2 lean-to vineries, fernery, tomato house, greenhouse, cucumber and melon house, forcing pits
  • Earliest Date:
  • Steps
  • Earliest Date:
  • Park Wall
  • Description: The park wall was built to enclose the hunting estate. The 1820 turnpike road destroyed its integrity.
  • Fishpond
  • Description: Fishponds now in Bird and Deer Park
  • Spring
  • Description: The spring is capped by a spring building. English Hertitage Images of England 131869.
  • Chapel
  • Description: St. Peter's chapel was added to the house in the late-19th century. Chapel apse by J Coates-Carter with stained glass and decoration by Hardman.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Overthrow
  • Description: Gates and overthrow designed by J Coates Carter
  • Earliest Date:
  • Gateway
  • Description: A stone gateway of 1900, possibly designed by Harold Brakspear, carved with heraldry to celebrate the marriage of Thomas Dyer-Edwardes's daughter, Noelle, to the son of the Earl of Rothes.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Abbey (featured building)
  • Description: After the war the original plans for the new Abbey, which had been drawn up by Mr. H. S. Goodhart-Rendel proved to be too impracticable and new ones were drawn up by Mr. F. G. Broadbent.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Dam, Stream, Approach, Rose Garden, Bowling Green
Visitor Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

Please see: http://www.prinknashabbey.org/Map.htm

Directions

Visitors' entrance off A46. Please see: http://www.prinknashabbey.org/Map.htm
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • Upton St.
Designations
  • The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building
  • Reference: Images of England 131868
  • Grade: I
  • The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building
  • Reference: Images of England 131869
  • Grade: II
History

History

Prinknash Park was created in a clearance in the great beech wood. It was a hunting estate and given to Gloucester's principal monastic community as a source of timber and fish. At the dissolution it was given as a wedding present to the daughter of the King's tutor. In 1888 it was acquired by Thomas Dyer-Edwardes who greatly improved the grounds. However, he was unable to sell the estate in 1923 so he instigated the transfer to the Benedictine Community then living on Caldey Island. They built a new abbey in the grounds but as it is now too big for them they have moved back to the medieval St. Peter's Grange.

Detailed History

Prinknash Park was created in a clearance in the great beech wood (Buckholt) which extended from Birdlip to Painswick and Upton St. Leonards.

Prinknash or Prinkedge is a name which describes the situation of the place on the brink or edge of a hill, as the letters P and B were interchangeable.

It was a hunting estate of St. Peter’s Abbey, currently Gloucester’s cathedral. Fishponds may have provided fish for the community and wood was provided.

Although the house was traditionally called Prinknash Park it incorporated a chapel called St. Peter’s Chapel. When the current owners moved to newly-built quarters that they named Prinknash Abbey they renamed the old house St. Peter’s Grange.

The foundations of the old water mill can still be traced in the corner by the bird park, though the Salcombe Brook which powered the mill has now gone underground. The traditional name of the field just below St. Peter’s Grange was Mill Mead.

Whilst previous owners to Thomas Dyer-Edwardes made improvements, they were largely to the accommodation. In contrast, Thomas Dyer-Edwardes made extensive alterations to the pleasure gardens including a new stables connecting to the house with steps, a sunken garden, a new drive and two new lodges soon after his purchase in 1888.

The estate was offered to the Benedictine Community of Caldey on 1924. After inspection they signed a Deed of Gift in December 1925. Unfortunately, Mr Dyer-Edwardes died within a year, which revoked the Deed of Gift. Prinknash Park passed to his heirs. In 1927 the 19th Earl of Rothes died and his son the 20th Earl honoured his grandfather’s wish and signed another Deed of Gift in 1928. Caldey was then sold to the Cistercians.

Initially 27 acres 1 rood and 21 perches was transferred. The community bought more land, so the farm at present comprises 300 acres, largely pasture. This is far larger than the 215 acres offered in the 1923 (unsuccessful) sale that included Gastrells Farm besides the western lodge.

With few joining the community, inevitably it is ageing and becoming smaller. The new Abbey is too big and they have decided to return to St. Peter’s Grange. PG Enterprises plan to convert the abbey into retirement flats linked to a purpose-built nursing home. This could fund adapting the stables (currently used as farm buildings) into St Peter’s retreat house. Simon Chorley Art and Antiques wishes to use the old pottery shop as an auction room. There are plans to renovate the walled garden, which has provided the monks with fruit and vegetables for many years. This will be developed to give the general visitor an interesting attraction for relaxation, reflection and education.

Associated People
References

References

Contributors

  • John Newbury