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You are in: Black Country > Uncovered > Walk Through Time > Page 7
An arch, part of the priory ruins

Black Country Walk Through Time

Dudley Priory

Continue on the path around the left-hand edge of the park, past the playground to the formal garden in front of Priory Hall.

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Wedding at Priory Hall
Wedding party at Priory Hall

Underneath the path you're walking on, there is a canal tunnel running right through the park.

Priory Hall was built in the 1820s for the first Earl of Dudley. It's now a listed building which is now used as Dudley's register office.

audioFind out more about Priory Hall. Listen to John Hemingway »

Continue walking straight on towards the priory ruins.

Part of the mosaic
Detail of the mosaic

Just past Priory Hall, there's a mosaic depicting life in the priory. It's made of pebbles and slate set in the path. You're now in entering the borough of Dudley from the borough of Sedgley.

audioWhy is there a small area of Dudley in the borough of Sedgley? Listen to John Hemingway »
audioWhat does the mosaic look like? Listen to John Hemingway »

As you walk towards the priory ruins, there are dips in the ground where old ponds used to be. On the left is a 1920s/30s rectangular formal pond set inside a garden with a low wall. It's on the site of an older pool.

The formal pool
The formal pool in the park

audioFind out more about Dudley Priory's pools. Listen to John Hemingway »
audioFind out more about the formal pond. Listen to John Hemingway »

There are roses growing in the garden, water lilies in the pond and you might be lucky enough to see some frogs or bats which come out here at night.

audioFind out about wildlife in the pool. Listen to Ali Glaisher »

Explore the ruins of Dudley Priory

Marked out rooms
Marked out rooms

Dudley Priory is now in ruins - some spectacular arches, staircases and walls have been preserved and you can clearly see the outline of rooms marked in the grass by stones. These stone lines were put in by the archaeologist Rayleigh Radford in 1939. They mark out the cloisters and other rooms in the Priory. The location of the cloisters is unusual - it's on the North side. Most priories and monastries have the cloisters on the South side because it's warmer.

audioWhat's left of Dudley Priory? Listen to John Hemingway »
audioWhy is the priory located here? Listen to John Hemingway »
audioWhy did people originally settle in Dudley and who built the Castle and Priory? Listen to John Hemingway »
audioWhat do the lines mark out and why are the cloisters unusual? Listen to John Hemingway »

Often buildings are made with local stone. Dudley Priory is made from limestone mined on Wren's Nest, where you've just walked from. Look out for the thick simple pillars (built in the 1170s and 1180s) which form an archway - the rocks in these pillars show ripples, just like the Ripple Bed!

Archaeologist John Hemingway  looking at the mortar joints in the Priory
Archaeologist John Hemingway looking at the mortar joints in the Priory

The Priory seems to have been worked on by several different builders. The low curved walls are evidence of this. You can also see where newer areas of building work have been added to the Priory - the neatest bricks are the most recent.

audioWhat do the curved walls show? Listen to John Hemingway »

One of the most magnificent arches of the Priory is fenced off (see photo at the top of the page). It's very tempting as a climbing frame but it's too fragile and too dangerous to climb.

The arch was part of the Lady Chapel area of the Priory. This was built in the 1300s, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The stonework in the Lady Chapel (and the arch) is much better quality than in the rest of the walls. The mortar joints inside the arch (see photo, above left) show that this was constructed by extremely skilled craftsmen - the Sutton family who built this section of the Priory must have been very wealthy!

John Hemingway looks at the patch of tiles on the ground
John Hemingway looks at the patch of tiles on the ground

Near this archway is a patch of tiling on the ground at the top of the steps - this is a collage of the best medieval tiles found by Rayleigh Radcliffe's team when the site was excavated in 1939.

audioFind out more about the Lady Chapel and the tiles in the ground. Listen to John Hemingway »

There are ferns growing in the walls of the main chapel of the priory. They anchor themselves in the rock (just like the plants in the geological cutting - page 3) and obtain all the water and sunlight they need here.

audioFind our more about the ferns growing on the walls. Listen to Ali Glaisher »

Fern growing in the Priory walls

Now, Dudley Priory is part of the park and local children enjoy playing in and around it. Like any building, the Priory needs to be looked after and the council take care to maintain the ruins as they are.

audioHow is the priory being restored? Listen to John Hemingway »

From the priory, walk past the Technical College into Gervaise Drive. Behind the college, you can just spot the tip of Dudley Castle.

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(Optional detour: Dudley Castle and Zoo. These are some of the Black Country's biggest tourist attractions and well worth a visit. More information » )

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Map of Dudley (© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. BBC licence number 100019855, 2004)
© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. BBC licence number 100019855, 2004

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WATCH/LISTEN TO WALKS Realplayer required
audio   Priory Hall
audio   Dudley in Sedgley?
audio   The Priory Park mosaic
audio   Dudley Priory's pools
audio   The formal pond
audio   Wildlife in the pond
audio   What's left of Dudley Priory?
audio   Dudley's first settlers
audio   Cloisters & lines
audio   What do the curved walls show?
audio   Lady Chapel and tiles
audio   Ferns growing on the walls
audio   Why is the priory located here?
audio   Restoration work
Gallery - Dudley fossils
Gallery - unusual fossils
Meet Wendy, local BBC presenter
Birmingham Walk Through Time
Wolverhampton Walk

Black Country Uncovered

Hereford Walk Through Time
Stoke Walk Through Time
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