Dunstable Priory
Dunstable Priory
There have been inhabitants in the area of Dunstable since prehistoric times, as the earthworks and burial mounds on the chalk hills above the town attest. Later, the Romans established a town they called Durocobrivis here at the junction of Watling Street and the ancient trackway known as the Icknield Way.

The Saxons abandoned the site, but in 1131 Henry I established a market town here, complete with a palace and an Augustinian priory. It was at Dunstable Priory that the annulment of Katherine of Aragon's marriage to Henry VIII was anounced in 1533. The Augustinians were evicted shortly afterwards in the Dissolution of the Monasteries, but parts of the priory church of St. Peter survived as the parish church.

St. Peter has been called one of the finest examples of Norman ecclesiastical architecture in England. The west front is magnificent, with a huge entry consisting of four arches (1170) above a later 15th century doorway. To the south west of the church is the 15th century gateway, a reminder of the long vanished priory.

Inside the church, the highlight is the beautifully intricate 14th century screen, with 5 open bays. There are quite a few funerary monuments and floor brasses, but the stained glass window depicting Henry I is a modern creation. The old west doors are scarred by Civil War shots.

The town prospered as a coaching centre, before the coming of the railway put an end to that. Several fine coaching inns have survived in the town as reminders of past prosperity.

About Dunstable
Address: Dunstable, Bedfordshire, England
Attraction Type: Town
Location map
OS: TL017 220
Photo Credit: mym, licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence


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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest

Dunstable Priory - 0.3 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

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