History of Felley Priory
The Priory of Felley was founded in 1156 on the site of a small hermitage dedicated to Our Lady. It consisted of twelve canons following the Rule of St Augustine. They lived well organised lives, with a stew pond for the carp they ate on Fridays (which can be seen over the bottom garden wall) and a mill at the bottom of the hill.
In the Dissolution in 1535, not all of the Priory was completely destroyed. Parts were used elsewhere in the construction of the house and garden, for example, on the west side of the house between the Tudor door and chimney. The pillars at the entrance to the garden were originally part of the Priory Church and date from the late 12th Century.
The brick side of the house, next to the Jargonelle Pear Tree, dates from 1557, but it is thought that originally the Cloisters were within this area. The rest of the Priory was located towards the west end of the house. The garden now covers the site of the Priory Church. The high garden wall to the south west is believed to be part of the priory boundary wall.
The central part of the house was constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries. There is a particularly fine example of a Tudor chimney on the west side of the house. The lion and unicorn on the west side of the house date from this period.
The house was plundered during the Civil War and became an army garrison and Royalist stronghold.
The stone ends of the house were added about 1860 and the garden terraced in 1890. The pond in the garden may have been constructed then.
The Chaworth-Musters family became owners of the property in 1822, although they did not live there.
In 1973, Major Robert Chaworth-Musters moved to Felley, having sold Annesley Hall, the family home, which is just the other side of the M1. The gardens were created thereafter by Major and Mrs Chaworth-Musters.
The house is currently occupied by Major Chaworth-Musters’ grandchildren, Sophia and Victoria, together with their father and step-mother.
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