MSO12115 - The Old Priory, Nos 5 and 7, Priory Green, Dunster (Building)


Priory buildings attached to St George's Parish Church. They are described as the Prior's House by Pevsner. The roof has been dated to 1270-1302, with the northern end lost to fire. In the 19th Century, the building was converted into cottages.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Medieval in origin embodying remains of Priory buildings, now largely 16th Century, remodelled in 19th century when converted into cottages. Rubble and slate hanging, modern plaintiles, stone and brick stacks. Two storeys, L-shaped. Five windows, leaded iron casements in wood frames, semi-circular relieving arches to ground floor openings. Stop moulded doorframe, ribbed door. Exposed stone chimney breast to south side. Good 16th century 3-light stone mullion window, cusped head leaded lights, 17th century mullion and transom cross window. [1] English Heritage Listed Building Number: 264710. First Listed on 22/05/1969. [2] Dunster Priory, situated to the north of the church and abutting on to it, was built by the monks of Bath as a cell of their abbey. The present buildings are but a fragment of the original and are in the form of an "L". The shorter piece, looking north, appears to have been the refectory in which there is a window dated not later than circa 1380. The longer side of the "L" appears to have always been offices, and a cloister ran from the priory along the north side of the church, perhaps as far as the chapel of St. Lawrence [3]. The buildings are described as the Prior's Lodging in the 2002 Conservation Area appraisal for Dunster. It describes them as having "medieval origins but mainly dating from the 16th century with 19th century remodelling when converted into cottages. The plan is L-shaped and there is a three-light stone mullion window with a cusped head and 17th century mullioned and transomed window. There is a stop-moulded door frame with ribbed door." [4] Pevsner says of the buildings, "The house on the N side of the blank wall of the nave, partly beyond the line of the W end of the church, was the PRIOR'S HOUSE. It is L-shaped in plan. Former Hall in the range facing N with fireplace and timber roof." [5] The buildings were visited in April 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. They received a BAR score of 6. [7] The building is shown on a late 18th Century map of Dunster and the Dunster Tithe Map, as well as the 1st and 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey maps as extending further to the north of its present footprint, encompassing a now separate building at SS 9900 4369 that appears to be in use as a garage. This garage building appears to contain an internal fireplace on its western wall. Modern MasterMap data appears to show that the now demolished section of the building's footprint has been preserved in the current landscaping of the site. [8-13] The Dunster Tithe Map lists this building under the same ownership as the farmyard to the north (MEM23773) within land parcel 61. The accompanying Tithe Apportionment describes this as "House Barton Garden etc", part of the Priory and owned by John Fownes Luttrell Esquire, being occupied by Thomas Oatway (it is, however, noted that this land is tithe free). It therefore appears that the house was in use as a farmhouse at this time. [9] The building was subject to dendrochronological dating in 2015 by Tree-Ring Services, which provided a felling date range of 1270-1302. This stone walled building lies immediately to the north of the nave of the Priory church, in the vicinity of the demolished cloister. The building is L shaped in plan and consists of a north to south oriented west range and an east to west oriented south range, which is thought to be later. The west range is stone built. Internally the roof is of four bays, but the north end of the building has been lost to fire and the roof may have extended further. The trusses over the southern part of this range are steeply pitched and of arch braced construction, with cranked collars. It is thought likely that the trusses are of raised cruck construction, but they are concealed at the wall head. The apexes of the principal rafters are truncated and tenoned into a triangular saddle which connected the principals, apparently without a ridge piece. The roof has a single set of in line butt purlins on each side, without mouldings or chamfers. These carry curved windbraces. The roof shows light smoke blackening, suggesting use as an open hall or a kitchen. Dating commissioned by Tim Taylor, as part of Dunster Dig Village. [14,15] Two samples were taken from the south range of the Old Priory in June 2016 for dendrochronological dating. The work was commissioned by Tim Taylor as part of the Dig Dunster Time Team project. This is thought to be the later of two ranges in the building and may be in the vicinity of the demolished cloister of Dunster Priory (MSO9407). The roof is of six bays and of an arch braced construction, featuring chamfered upper and lower arch braces and straight collars linking principal rafters; some evidence of smoke blackening was also noted, suggesting it was previously an open hall structure. No bark was noted on the samples and it was suggested that construction of the south range may have occurred between AD 1439 and AD 1471. [16] The building is mentioned in the 2018 Conservation Area Appraisal for Dunster. [17]

Sources/Archives (16)

  • <1> Index: 4/8/1983. Twenty-fifth List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. District of West Somerset (Somerset).
  • <2> Unassigned: Webster CJ, Historic Environment Record. 2005. Staff Comments, Somerset County Council.
  • <4> Report: Fisher, J.. 2002. Dunster Conservation Area Character Appraisal. Exmoor National Park Authority. p6.
  • <5> Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1958. The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset. Penguin Books. p156.
  • <6> Monograph: Hancock, F. 1905. Dunster Church and Priory. 43-4.
  • <7> Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
  • <8> Map: Unknown. 1790. Map of Dunster. 5 chains: 1 inch.
  • <9> Map: 1842. Dunster Tithe Map and Apportionment. 6 chains = 1 inch.
  • <10>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 1854-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. [Mapped feature: #43507 ]
  • <11> Map: Ordnance Survey. County Series; 2nd Edition (1st Revision) 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <12> Website: Google. 2014 -. Google Maps. Street View, 17 January 2017.
  • <13> Map: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap.
  • <14> Article in serial: Alcock, A. and Tyers, C.. 2016. Tree-ring date lists 2016. Vernacular Architecture. 47:1. 69-106. 74.
  • <15> Report: Moir, A.. 2015. Dendrochronological analysis of oak timbers from the Old Priory and Tithe Barn, Dunster, Somerset, England. 1, 5-6, 7, 12-17, 20, 22-23.
  • <16> Report: Moir, A.. 2016. Dendrochronological analysis of oak timbers from more buildings in Dunster, Somerset, England. 1, 6-7, 8-9, 13-16, 18-21, 26, 29.
  • <17> Report: Pratt, N. and Thurlow, T.. 2018. Dunster Conservation Area: appraisal document. Exmoor National Park Authority. p 15, 21, 50, 93, Figure 49.

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 26/4/78/1
  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 26/4/78/2
  • Local List Status (Rejected)
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34978



Grid reference Centred SS 9901 4368 (24m by 41m) Historic mapping
Map sheet SS94SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Sep 5 2022 2:16PM


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