Houses of Benedictine monks: Priory of Dunwich

Page 76

A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.

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In early days the monastery of Eye, to which all the churches of Dunwich had been assigned by the Conquerer, possessed a cell or small priory in that town. It was swallowed up by the sea about the time of Edward I. Leland states that the monks of Eye, in his days, possessed an ancient textus or book of the Gospels, brought from this cell, called in later days, 'The Red Book of Eye', which had belonged to St. Felix. (fn. 1)

Gardner, writing in 1754, makes mention of what was probably the last trace of this cell. Common or Covent Garden, abutting on SeaField, was a plot of ground whereon grew large crops of thyme, &c., which created in many people a belief that it was a garden for the service of the whole town. But the name rather implies the foundation of some convent thereabouts. Also mention is made of a cell of monks at Dunwich subordinate to Eye, destroyed some ages past, so possibly it was a curtilage appertaining to the religious house. And as the sea made encroachments thereupon many human bones were discovered, whereby part thereof manifestly appeared to have been a place of sepulture, which was washed away in the winter Ann. Dom. 1740. (fn. 2)


  • 1. Leland, Collectanea, iv, 26.
  • 2. Gardner, Hist. of Dunwich, 62. For further particulars see under 'Priory of Eye.'