Cartmel Priory Gatehouse
Location : Cartmel
Grid Ref : SD 378788
Tel 015394 35599 (National Trust Grasmere Regional Office)
Cartmel Priory Gatehouse is a Heritage Centre depicting the history of the monastery and Cartmel village, and is managed by the Cartmel Village Society.
Cartmel Priory was built by Augustinian canons between 1190 and 1220. A great part of the Priory was destroyed at The Dissolution of the Monasteries, but the church remains because it is was, and still is, the parish church.
The existing gatehouse was probably built around 1330-1340. Many similar fortified towers were erected in the Lake Counties at that time because of the bitter Border warfare. The gatehouse was built with gates to open northwards. The archway, originally, would have a guard room on the east side and a porter’s lodge on the west, and here alms would be given out to the poor, as was the custom at all monasteries.
When the Priory was surrendered in 1536, the Gatehouse was one of the few parts of the priory other than the Parish Church, to be saved. The Gatehouse probably escaped because it was the court-house of the manor, and an obviously useful building. It was used for a time as a prison, and later as a school.
In 1923 the gatehouse was opened as a small local museum, and used for exhibitions, meetings etc. In 1919 W.G. Collingwoodrecommended it be given to the National Trust, and in 1946, the owner gave the building to the National Trust, so it could be preserved for ever.