Brainshaugh Priory, Acklington

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameBrainshaugh Priory, Acklington
Alternative NamesGuyzance Priory; Gysyns; St Wilfrid's
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishAcklington

Church or Chapel. Nave late C11 or C12; chancel C13 or C14. Nave squared stone with some long blocks in lower courses, and irregular alternate quoins; chancel slightly-poorer mansonry; cut dressings. Nave, formerly with 2-bay south aisle,and chancel. West end has lower jambs of narrow central window; north wall full height but featureless. West part of chancel north wall is C19 rebuild; in east part a blocked doorway with pointed head cut from two large blocks (c.f. Bothal). East end is C18 graveyard wall apparently on old foundations. South chancel wall shows priest's door with double-chamfered depressed arch; jambs of large C14 window to the east and a smaller, perhaps low-side, window immediately west.

Interior: Nave 9.1 x 4.8 metres; chancel 8.7 x 4.8 metres. Walls c.0.8 metres thick except for west end 0.95 metres. Moulded corbel at north-west corner and sockets for braces to roof trusses in nave north wall; bases of semicircular east respond and circular central pier of the south arcade. Chancel has tall rear arch to blocked north door with semicircular arch above lintel; an apparent keystone hints at post-medieval alteration; aumbry to west.

South wall shows trefoiled piscina with remains of twin bowls; shouldered inner jambs to C14 windows.

C19 concrete paving throughout with 1864 ledger slab to Tate family at west end.

Historical note: A Premonstratension nunnery at 'Gysnes' (Guyzance) was founded in early C12 by Richard Tison, and converted to a parochial curacy before the Dissolution. Early documents mention both the 'capella monialum' (monastery church) and the 'ecclesia de Gisyng' (church of Guyzance) so it is hard to say which the present ruin represents; foundations to the south and south-east suggest the buildings of a small religious house. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Compact and well walled nunnery included by Brooke in his book of fortified religious buildings. However much of the walling is modern and the medieval form may have been different. Regardless there can not have been a garrison and the idea this site had anything other than the usual degree of conventual isolation is questionable.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNU208031
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  • Brooke, C.J., 2000, Safe Sanctuaries (Edinburgh; John Donald) p. 155-6
  • Knowles, David and Hadcock, R. Neville, 1971, Medieval religious houses in England and Wales (Longman) p. 230
  • Hodgson, J.C., 1899, A History of Northumberland Vol. 5 (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 477-9, 482


  • Honeyman, H.L., 1942, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser4) Vol. 9 p. 192