Tuesday, 10 February 2015

HLD#3: Ashridge Priory

The grand entrance to Ashridge Priory

Ashridge House, is part of a grand estate and home to the Ashridge Business School. But it was not always a school, just as it was not always a stately home either. A very long time ago this building housed the Brothers of Penitence, also known as Bonhommes and they were part of a religious order known as the Augustinians. They followed the rule of St Augustine of Hippo, they were friars and Ashridge was their abbey.

In 1283, not to far from Ashridge, at Berkhampstead Castle, lived Richard, Earl of Cornwall and his son Edmund. It was Edmund who founded the priory and he did so for a rector and twenty canons. It was the first ever house of Bonhommes in England.

Richard, donated a phial of Christ's blood to the abbey and thanks to this, pilgrims flocked from all over Europe, to catch a glimpse and see for themselves. It made the abbey quite prosperous. King Edward I visited and held court there in 1290 while he spent Christmas in the local village of Pitstone.

Like most religious building of its era, it met its downfall at the hands of Henry VIII.