Yorkshire Guide - main picture
My site, my views. Unofficial, unfunded and occasionally unorthodox. Enjoy!

Newburgh Priory

Entrance to Newburgh PrioryNewburgh Priory is a pretty well kept secret. It's not on any of the main tourist trecks and you have to work hard to find it. It's actually just south of Coxwold, which itself is just to the east of Sutton Bank and the Kilburn white horse. I only came across it by accident while looking for Byland Abbey, and it came as a surprise, as I can honestly say I've never seen any publicity of any kind for it.

After a bit of digging I discovered it was originally the site of a priory which fell into the hands of Henry VIII's chaplain after the dissolution. Sounds just like the Russian Oligarchs cashing in as the Soviet Union was broken up!  At some point after that, Oliver Cromwell's daughter Mary married into the family, and  reputedly brought his headless corpse which was then entombed in a bricked up vault somewhere in the house.

Big topiary outside Newburgh Priory Why did Cromwell have a headless corpse you ask. Well three years after he died, Charles II was restored to the throne, and Cromwell's corpse was dug up from Westminster Abbey and the head stuck on a spike on Westminster Hall -  a symbolic location as that's where Charles I had been tried. The head eventually ended-up buried at his old college, Sidnex Sussex in Cambridge, and the body, reputedly, is here. A sad end for a great Englishman. By the way, if anyone reading this knows where John Lilburne rests, drop me a line as that's a pilgrimage I'd like to make.

The house descended through the Fauconberg and Wombwell families and is still lived in by the Wombwell's today. Hence the Fauconberg Arms at Coxwold and the Wombwell Arms at Byland Abbey. Don't know about the Fauconberg Arms, but I've had a nice pint of Black Sheep at the Wombwell Arms, and the food looked good too. 

The roadside outside Newburgh Priory

I haven't been round the house yet as I didn't have time when I went past, but I will be doing soon. The website's a year out of date as I'm writing, but the sign on the gate said it opened 2- 6 on a Wednesday and Sunday fom April to June. No wonder they don't print leaflets with opening hours that short. Then again, I would guess the estate is probably viable as the estate wall stretches for literally miles and this is rich agricultural land.  Update - just checked the website and the house itself is only open from 2:30 - 4:45. 

But it's nice to see a house not in the hands of the National Trust, as they're all run to the same formula and lack any kind of individuality. You certainly wouldn't see bizarre topiary like this anywhere the NT were involved. No, they'd hold meeting after meeting, check their decisions with focus groups and then commission a sculptor to produce a small privet chicken.

Can't say much more till I've been round. Hope lovers of topiary enjoy the photos.

You might also like
Comments (3)
Fabulous grounds and topiary - what a discovery !! Loved the Japanese water garden hidden away in the grounds and just the lack of visitors even on the Sunday of a Bank Holiday weekend, only about 20 cars. Didn't go in the house but planning another visit very soon.
posted by Bella B 04/05/2009 10:55:39
The mystery of the whereabouts of Cromwells body continues.It is currently being covered in the weekly "Gadfly" column of the "NORTHERN ECHO" with interest continuing to be shown.
posted by Harry Watson.Darlington. 10/08/2009 15:24:28
Again this was a place we would have liked to visit but it was shut when we stayed at Carr House Farm near Ampleforth. www.carrhousefarm.co.uk. We are told by Anna that the water gardens and azelias are not to be missed
posted by sue-carole 21/02/2011 22:11:13
  3 people have added comments Click here to add yours