Woodspring Priory

Near Weston-super-Mare


Woodspring Priory, an Augustinian house of the rare Victorine rule, has a serene atmosphere, surrounded by a working farm, and lying by the sea.

Free public Open Days: 14-15 September 2024

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • DishwasherDishwasher
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • ShowerShower
  • Washing MachineWashing Machine

Beds 2 Twin, 2 Double

4 nights from
£720 equivalent to £22.50 per person, per night

Thomas Becket

Woodspring Priory was founded in 1210 perhaps as an expiatory gesture by William de Courtenay, grandson of Reginald FitzUrse who with other West Countrymen murdered Thomas Becket. It was an Augustinian house of the rare Victorine rule and had St Thomas the Martyr as a patron saint. The priory was a small one but, as elsewhere in Somerset, flourished in the 15th century when the tower and nave of the church, the infirmary and a great barn were built in beautiful golden stone. The north aisle was unfinished when the priory was suppressed in 1536. The church, most unusually, was turned into a house, with a chimneystack built up through the roof of the nave.

We found Woodspring in 1969 as it had been since the Dissolution, the church still inhabited as the farmhouse of a picturesque and rather old-fashioned farm. However, the buildings had suffered greatly from the ravages of time. We repaired the church tower (one man and a boy, using ladders) and reinstated the crossing and north aisle inside it. The rest of the Priory, including the range built in 1701 on the site of the prior’s lodging, we have repaired for you to stay in.

A Serene Atmosphere

The kitchen with its woodstove is large and welcoming, while the living room and some of the bedrooms still colonise, lightly, the nave of the once-mighty church. The bedroom windows look south on to walled gardens, once the cloister and outer court. Woodspring Priory enjoys a serene atmosphere surrounded by farmland and fields with streams running through towards the sea. It has its own walled garden and orchard.

Drone footage

Floor Plan


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Map & local info

One of the joys of holidays can be sampling local food and drink delicacies. Champions of UK food suppliers Big Barn are mapping out many of the best farm shops, butchers, greengrocers, markets and other outlets in an interactive – and ever-growing – food-map of our nations. To discover and source produce local to Woodspring Priory, explore their website bigbarn.co.uk.

For a lively contrast to the peaceful setting of Woodspring Priory, take a trip to the nearby seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare. As well as all the traditional seaside attractions, including the Grand Pier, the town is also well known for festivals and food that it stages, amongst many other events. Nearby, Clevedon Marine Lake is a tidal pool on the Somerset coast. It gets filled with seawater from the Bristol Channel every spring tide and it's place to play, swim and boat.

The spectacular limestone caverns at Wookey Hole are about 45 minutes drive, close to the medieval city of Wells with its beautiful cathedral

The stunning coastline around Weston-super-Mare offers wonderful walks with spectacular views of one of the most beautiful parts of North Somerset. 

For more information on things to do during your stay at Woodspring Priory, please see our Pinterest page.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Clear directions
Essential info
What you need to know about this building
  • Yes. You are welcome to bring up to two dogs. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog.

    Please contact booking enquiries if you have an assistance dog, for which there is no charge.
  • Via a track from the main road.
  • Weston-super-Mare – 5 miles.
  • There are two (possibly three) parking spaces alongside the priory wall approximately 20m from the Landmark.
  • There is an Air Source Heat Pump system, an open fire and a stove.
  • Unfortunately, there is currently no arrangement for the purchase and delivery of fuel, however details of local sources will be provided with your order confirmation.
  • To check up-to-date mobile network coverage in the area, visit signalchecker.co.uk.* Due to the location and structure of many of our buildings, signal strength may differ to those indicated.
    * Links to other sites are provided for information purposes only.  We do not endorse any such websites and we are not responsible for the information, material, products or services contained on or accessible through those websites.  Your access and use of such websites remains solely at your own risk.  For further information, visit our website terms of use.
  • The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also an electric cooker, a dishwasher, microwave and washing machine.
  • There is a large walk-in shower downstairs and a traditional deep bath upstairs.
  • The stairs are steep and spiral. 
  • There is a large garden (not enclosed).
Booking and Payment
  • If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • The key arrangements will be included in the Further Infomation document which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • If your stay starts more than two months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy and The Bunk House at Llwyn Celyn must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • Our housekeeper will leave the key in a suitable place, the details of which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
Staying at a Landmark
  • Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.  Further information on access when visiting Lundy can also be found here.
  • Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if a registered assistance dog is supporting one of the guests, for which there is no charge.
  • Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visiting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).
  • Landmark’s electrical systems have not been designed to provide continuous power from one socket over several hours.  If an ordinary socket is used to charge an electric vehicle, there is significant risk of an electrical fire and consequent danger to life.  Therefore, we are unable to allow electric vehicle charging from most of our Landmarks at present.

    We are working to provide Type 2 Electric Vehicle charge points at our properties where there is private parking.  Where this is available, please request this facility when booking the property to ensure the outlet is enabled on your arrival.  There is a small charge to cover the cost of electricity provided.  Please book this facility in advance.
  • No, we do not allow smoking in any Landmark.
  • Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival. Except for the Llwyn Celyn Bunkhouse.
  • Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
    Except at Llwyn Celyn Bunk House where a password is available in the property when you arrive.
  • A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. Hairdryers are provided.

Do you have other questions?

Our Booking Enquiries team can help with information about each building.

Booking Enquiries
01628 825925
[email protected]

Opening hours
Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm


Founded around 1210

Woodspring Priory, or Worspring as it was known in the Middle Ages, was founded in or around the year 1210. It belonged to the Victorine order of Augustinian Canons, a French foundation of which the Abbey of St Augustine in Bristol was the leading representative in this country. The Augustinians differed from the great Benedictine monastic orders not only in the Rule by which their daily life was governed, but more particularly in that all its members were clerks who had taken Holy Orders, as against the simpler vows of a monk.

They were thus able to undertake the duties of parish priest and other work in the community. At the same time they were strongly influenced by the ideals of the Cistercians, whose abbeys had to be built in remote places and for whom manual labour, particularly in agriculture, was a basic requirement. In both of these respects the priory at Woodspring was highly suitable, as it still is today when opportunities for contemplation and the purposeful activity of the farm are happily combined in one place.

The founder of the new priory was one William de Courtenay who gave to it his manors of Woodspring, Worle and Locking to provide it with an income. It was not unusual for medieval landowners to do this, but in William's case a major impulse behind so generous an act must have been that of penitence: his grandfather, from whom he had inherited Woodspring, was Reginald Fitz-Urse one of the assassins of St Thomas Becket. He must have felt a sense of continuing guilt from which his family had to be purged. St Thomas was accordingly chosen as a patron saint of the priory and his martyrdom is depicted on its seal.

Woodspring was not large or wealthy; its buildings were never grand and the community probably had fewer than ten members at any one time. But towards the end of its existence an unknown source of income enabled it to embark on a surprisingly ambitious building programme. To this last great burst of activity in the 15th and early 16th centuries we owe the church with its fine tower, the infirmary and the great barn, and a fragment of the prior's lodging. Work on these was carried on right up till the eve of the priory's suppression by Henry VIII in 1536 - an indication of how little anyone really suspected that he would go through with this immensely destructive policy.

Today Woodspring is perhaps most remarkable for the way in which it was converted after the Dissolution. No qualms were felt about any need to limit the new work to the more secular of the monastic buildings: the confident new Tudor owners put their house right inside the church itself, drawing back only at occupying the chancel, which they pulled down. Chimneys sprouted through the nave roof, and floors were inserted into the north aisle and the crossing beneath the tower. The large windows were prosaically and expertly blocked and smaller mullioned windows inserted in their place.

The Priory continued life as a farmhouse. From time to time over the following centuries it was smartened up, with a new wing built in place of the prior's lodging in 1701, for example, or the creation of a new parlour on the ground floor of the nave in about 1800; and a garden was formed in the outer court in the mid-19th century, which involved moving the 14th-century gatehouse. But none of this work was excessive; the original priory was not engulfed by a great mansion, and although those buildings which could not be put to a useful farming or household purpose were gradually plundered for building stone, enough remains for us to imagine the whole of it without great difficulty.

The Priory’s great Tithe barn also survives (still in farming use and today owned by the National Trust), as does its magnificent Infirmary whose roof is a triumph of the late medieval carpenters’ craft.

A short history of Woodspring Priory

The full history album for Woodspring Priory

Download the children's Explorer pack for Woodspring Priory


The work was done in two phases

In 1969, Woodspring Priory was acquired by the Landmark Trust, a charity which rescues and cares for historic buildings. Its work here has fallen into two phases. The first, completed in 1976, allowed part of the church and the Infirmary to be opened to the public. The second involved the creation of accommodation in the remainder of the church and in the adjoining farmhouse of 1701. This was completed in time for Christmas, 1992.

Little work had been done at Woodspring since repairs were carried out on the church in 1829, possibly under the supervision of the artist and architect, J.C. Buckler. Nearly 150 years later the buildings were once again in decay and repairs were urgently needed. The church tower was being severely damaged by great trunks of ivy and the infirmary was also in danger of collapse.

It was with these two, therefore, that work began; and so skilfully was the work on the tower carried out, all by one mason and a boy without scaffolding, that it is difficult now to see that they did anything at all. The infirmary required more intrusive methods: the walls were spreading so severely that the roof had to be completely dismantled, and the walls secured by a concrete ring beam before the roof was reassembled by Dawsons of Bristol. Inside the tower and in part of the north aisle, floors and partitions were removed to restore its original appearance as a church. The south window tracery was renewed.

All around the church and farmhouse a great deal of clutter was removed, leaving the present gardens and orchards free to be enjoyed. At the same time the cottage to the north of the church, which may be medieval in origin but which had been clumsily modernised, was remodelled more sympathetically, originally to house the curator, Christopher Crook, who lived on the site until his retirement in 2010.

At that time it was not possible to agree what should be done inside the rest of the building. The authorities were keen that the church itself should be completely cleared and restored, and then left as a monument; whereas the Landmark Trust was equally keen that the nave should remain as the extraordinary house it had become. So for a time work ceased, except for the gradual efforts of repair and discovery carried out by the curator.

In 1980 work was able to begin again under Caroe and Partners of Wells, architects experienced in the repair of historic buildings. From 1983, the work was carried out by a small team of craftsmen employed directly by the Landmark Trust, headed by Michael Haycraft. The new phase started with the repair of the farmhouse. The roof was renewed, using second-hand pantiles, the walls repointed and the oak mullioned windows on the garden front carefully repaired. The oak floor-frame was also repaired. The joists were missing, but could be seen from the pockets in the main beams to have been unusually large. They have been renewed to the original size, cut from green oak and adze dressed on three sides. The great fireplace upstairs was discovered while work was going on, and has been skilfully pieced together.

While this work was still in progress, consent was at last obtained to include the rooms in the nave and part of the north aisle in the Landmark. Further repairs to the exterior of the church could therefore be combined with restoration of the rooms inside it to provide the present sitting room, two bedrooms and a bathroom with a most unusual view. The Victorian drawing room next to the tower is arranged as a private museum where all visitors can study at leisure the story of Woodspring and its varied inhabitants and friends.

For a short history of Woodspring Priory please click here.

To read the full history album for Woodspring Priory please click here.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.