Hexham Priory

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are major building remains

NameHexham Priory
Alternative NamesSt Wilfrid's Gateway
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishHexham

Former Augustinian Priory. Originally founded by St Wilfrid circa 673 - the crypt dates this period. The choir, transepts and tower are circa 1180; the nave was burnt 1296 and rebuilt in 1908 by Temple Moor. Much recent restoration. Embattled crossing tower. 5 bay aisled chancel, the easternmost taken down and rebuilt slightly higher circa 1858; fragments of possibly late-Saxon apse below. 3 bay transepts with eastern aisles. South bay of south transept has slype with gallery to night stairs above. 6 bay nave, Exterior uniformly early English, apart from decorated tracery of nave windows. Lancets, corbel table etc. Interior also chiefly Early Englih, much restored and altered. Wooden ceiling, vaulted aisles, with dado arcades, to transepts and chancel. High stilted arches on west wall of north transept with clustered shafts. 2 chantries - to Prior Ogle (d.1410), and to Prior Leschman (1480-91), the latter with a cowled effigy and much rude stone sculpture. Early C15 sedilia with painted panels, including the dance of death. Delicate Rood Screen (1491-1523) with panel painting and rich woodwork. Misericords in stalls. Font at west end of nave with, for base, part of a pilier cantonne from the north transept with a dog tooth central shaft. Interior also contains several monuments: relief of a Roman standard bearer; St Acca's Cross (C7), cross base with Crucifixion from the Spital, the Frith Stool, or St Wilfrid's chair and various fragments built in the nave walls. (Listed Building Report)

The Priory gatehouse

Circa 1160. Former 2 storey ashlar gatehouse now a 3 bay arched gateway. Upper storey and vaults destroyed in early C19 for picturesque effect. Wall ribs and corbels remain. Round arches spanning road, gateway to west. Piers to 1st bay from north. (Listed Building Report)

The church at Hexham was built in AD674-8 by St Wilfrid, the Bishop of York. It was dedicated to St Andrew and became a cathedral in 681

The stone chair in which the bishop would have sat can still be seen in the chancel. After 821 the bishop moved to Lindisfarne and the church became the centre of a monastery. However, in 875 many of the buildings were destroyed by Viking raids. Little remains of this Anglo-Saxon church, though the crypt built by St Wilfrid is still visible. In 1113 the monastery was refounded by Augustinian monks. A strong gatehouse was built in the mid-12th century and a new church begun in 1189. The church was sacked by Scottish raiders in 1296. The monastery was abolished in 1536 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when it became the parish church of Hexham. The nave of the present church was built in the late 19th century. (Keys to the Past)

Gatehouse Comments

Important medieval priory suggested as defensible. The Gatehouse of c. 1160 partly survives but does not seem to have been anything more than the usual monastic gatehouse (It has a large arched opening with no suggestion of a portcullis, draw bar holes or any other defensive features) and it absolutely certain that the monastery had no idea it would be attacked at the end of the C13 when the gatehouse was built in the peaceful mid C12.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 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 ReferenceNY935640
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Copyright Paul Buxton All Rights Reserved
Copyright Paul Buxton All Rights Reserved
Copyright Paul Buxton All Rights Reserved

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  • Brooke, C.J., 2000, Safe Sanctuaries (Edinburgh; John Donald) p. 179-83
  • Pevsner, N., 1992 (revised by Grundy, John et al), Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin)
  • Knowles, David and Hadcock, R. Neville, 1971, Medieval religious houses in England and Wales (Longman)┬áp474
  • Farquhar, J.V.C., 1935, The Saxon Cathedral and Priory Church of St Andrew, Hexham (Hexham)
  • Hinds, Allen B. (ed), 1896, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 3 p. 204 online copy
  • Hutchinson, Wm, 1776, A View of Northumberland (Newcastle) Vol. 1 p. 106 online transcription


  • Tilley, Brian, 2013 March 13, ''Let Gatehouse fall down' - Council' Hexham Courant (news report) online copy
  • Bailey, R.N. and O'Sullivan, D., 1979, 'Excavations over St. Wilfrid's crypt at Hexham, 1978' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser5) Vol. 7 p. 144-57
  • Cambridge, E., 1979, 'C.C.Hodges and the nave of Hexham Abbey' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser5) Vol. 7 p. 158-68
  • Bailey, R.N., 1976, 'The Anglo-Saxon church at Hexham' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser5) Vol. 4 p. 47-67
  • Bailey, R.N. and Burton, Neil, 1976, 'The Abbey Church of St Andrew, Hexham' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 133 p. 197-202


  • Northumberland County Council, 2009, 'Hexham' Northumberland Extensive Urban Survey doi:10.5284/1000177 [download copy > http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/northumberland_eus_2011/downloads.cfm?REDSQUIDARCHIVES_7_799BB461-A0C4-488C-B90DF1259EFE2DA8&area=Hexham]