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Monument record MDR4462 - Nunnery of St. Mary De Pratis (site of), Derby

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

[SK 34423669] Remains of a nunnery. (1) In a general charter of confirmation to the abbot and canons of Darley, soon after their foundation, Bishop Walter Durdent, c. 1160, makes special mention of the nuns of Darley. He assigned the care of them to the Abbot Albinus, whom he names as the builder of their house. This nunnery of St. Mary de Pratis, or King's Mead, was the only Benedictine foundation in the county. It was situated to the west of Derby, just a mile from Darley Abbey, as stated by Bishop Walter, in the meadows by the side of the Oddebrook. Various documents refer to the nunnery in the 13th century, for example disputes arose regarding specific endowments that accrued to the nunnery so that an agreement was signed in c. 1250 making the nuns and their property free from the control of the abbot and canons. In 1327 the nunnery pleaded poverty and debts and there is a further reference to its poverty in 1334. Little is known of the nunnery from 1367 onwards apart from the names of successive prioresses. These were all, without exception, members of the leading families of the county, who were in the habit of sending their daughters to be educated at the only nunnery that Derbyshire possessed - there is documentary evidence in the archives of the Curzon, Fitzherbert and Gresley families that the priory was used as a boarding-school. The Valor of 1535 records the annual value of the nunnery as £18 6s 2d but the nuns probably supplemented this by acting as teachers to their boarders. The house was visited in 1536 just before the dissolution and although the commissioners had no charges to bring against the prioress and nuns, it was stated that a part of the shirt of St Thomas of Canterbury was preserved at the priory which was an object of reverence to pregnant women. (2) Derby, King's Mead or de Pratis, a priory of Benedictine nuns founded c. 1160, dissolved 1536. An old building at the end of Nuns Street may well be a portion of the nunnery of St. Mary de Pratis. (3) Numbers 124 & 126 Nuns Street (SK 34433669) are two cottages (now offices) with fine interior Elizabethan fabric but few exterior details. (4) It seems likely that the house at 124-126 Nun's Street (see SMR 32450) was first built in timber in the mid 16th century, the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Up to that time the land on which it stands belonged to the nunnery of St Mary de Pratis. An alternative view is given by Maxwell Craven who says that a post-dissolution house (see SMR32451) built on the site of, or converted from, the nunnery of St Mary de Pratis by the new lay owners, the Sutton family, stood on the west side of the present junction of Willow Row and Lodge Lane, some distance from 124-126 Nun's Street, which is unlikely to be part of it. (5) The Nunrye and Nun's Grene are shown on Speed's map of 1610. (6)

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Lysons, D & Lysons, S. 1817. Magna Britannia, Volume 5: Derbyshire. p 101.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Cox, J C. 1907. 'The Religious Houses of Derbyshire', in The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Derbyshire. Volume II, pp 54-56. pp 43-45.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Knowles, D & Hadcock, R. 1953. Medieval Religious Houses of England and Wales. p 212.
  • <4> Personal Observation: F1 FRH 24-OCT-66.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Hutton, B. Derby Buildings Record. DBR 68, August 1990.
  • <6> Map: Speed, J. 1610. Map of Derby.



Grid reference Centred SK 3444 3677 (219m by 216m) Centre

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR1367

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Record last edited

Mar 5 2024 11:43AM

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