Woodspring Priory

Near Weston-super-Mare

Overview

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

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Logs availableLogs available
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • Bath with ShowerBath with Shower
  • DishwasherDishwasher
  • Outside Dining FurnitureOutside Dining Furniture
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • Waitrose DeliveryWaitrose Delivery

Beds 2 Twin, 2 Double

Sleeps
8
4 nights from
£519 equivalent to £16.22 per person, per night

Thomas à 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 Atmostphere

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.

‘When you’re here, you feel as if you’re the first, the last, the only visitors ever to stay here.’

‘The best hiding place is up the chimney in the twin room.’

From the logbook

Floor Plan

Map & local info

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 the festivals of sand sculptures, air displays and food that it stages, amongst many other events. 

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
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via a track from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Weston-super-Mare – 5 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There are two (possibly three) parking spaces alongside the priory wall approximately 20m from the Landmark.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is an Air Source Heat Pump system, an open fire and a stove.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also an electric cooker and a dishwasher.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There are two bathrooms, one with a shower over the bath and the other with a bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The stairs are steep and spiral. 
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is a large garden (not enclosed).

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    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.
  • How can I pay?

    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.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact webmaster@landmarktrust.org.uk.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three 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 must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    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.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    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

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    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.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    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
  • Do you allow dogs?

    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.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • What time can I arrive and what time do I have to depart from the Landmark?

    Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    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.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    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.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    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.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    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.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    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 visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    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.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    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.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    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.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    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.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there toilet rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    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. We do not provide hairdryers.

Do you have other questions?

Our Booking Office can help with information about each building.
History

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.

Restoration

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.