Prittlewell Priory is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon. Priory Park boasts 45 acres of tranquil gardens and ponds, sports pitches and a children's playground. It's a beautiful setting for a picnic and you might even catch one of the regular classical band performances on the band stand. But Prittlewell Priory isn't just a first-rate park; it also holds a fascinating history.
In the heart of Priory Park stands the oldest continuously occupied building in Southend, the Prittlewell Priory. Founded in medieval 12th century around 1100AD, Prittlewell Priory was originally home to monks from the Cluniac Priory of St Pancras. During the suppression of the monasteries under the orders of King Henry VIII in 1536, much of the monastery was destroyed. Though a few original features of the building has remained, overall the Priory has undergone many changes and refurbishments. With the privatisation of the Priory, the house was home to many families for centuries before eventually being re-purposed as a museum and donated to the Southend council in 1922. Prittlewell Priory was Southend's first museum, exhibiting the last family to have lived there, the 19th century Scrattons who lived in the household for over 200 years.
Free to enter and explore, Prittlewell Priory museum has a Victorian wing, a 12th century refectory and a wildlife room. The history of this 900 year old building is brought to life with its numerous artefacts and exhibits, presenting centuries of transformation under different owners. Prittlewell Priory has a compelling story to tell and, especially after its recent £1.8 million of improvement, now is the time to visit. Not only for the magnificent park, but for the little bit of Southend history in the heart of it.
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