Bolton Priory

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Historical Environment Record No:
Bolton Abbey
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Bolton Priory from the air MYD4328 (c) YDNPA, 2023

Bolton Priory from the air MYD4328 (c) YDNPA, 2023

Bolton Priory was founded in 1155 by a community of black-robed Augustinian canons. They originally established a house in Embsay in 1120, but when Lady Alice de Rumilly of Skipton Castle offered them the manor of Bolton with its extensive farmland, woods and moors, they gladly moved. In the early 14th century, St Mary’s Priory, as it was called, fell on hard times but recovered and in the later years of the century a programme of rebuilding the church and some domestic buildings took place. The priory came to own extensive sheep farms around Malham and derived considerable income from the sale of wool from this and other estates.

The priory was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1539. At the time, a new West Tower was only half built, never to be completed. Following the Dissolution, the bulk of the priory estate was bought by the Clifford family, patrons of the church since 1310. The priory was not immediately demolished although the lead was stripped from many of the roofs. The nave of the church continued in use as the parish church, the corn mill within the precinct operated until the end of the 18th century and some of the cloister buildings were used as dwellings. The gatehouse was eventually incorporated into the 18th century Bolton Hall.

Bolton Priory MYD4328 (c) YDNPA, 2023

Bolton Priory MYD4328 (c) YDNPA, 2023


Kershaw, Ian (1973) Bolton Priory. The Economy of a Northern Monastery 1286-1325. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Watkins, Peter (1989) Bolton Priory and its church. Bolton Abbey: Bolton Priory Parochial Church Council – website for the Bolton Abbey Estate – website of the Priory Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert, Bolton Abbey


On B6160 road between Bolton Bridge and Burnsall. 7 miles from Burnsall. Car park in centre of village (charge). See for opening times and charges.

Public Transport Details

Nearest town/village: Bolton Abbey. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information.


See for information on accessible facilities.