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Newtownards Priory Church
 

County

Down

Coordinates

N 54° 35' 28.2"   W 005° 41' 31.8"

Nearest town

Newtownards

Grid Ref.

J 49145 73881

Map No.

21

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

9

Date of visit

Thursday 30 May 2019

GPS Accuracy (m)

4
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Looking west along Court Street in Newtownards. The square tower is on the south side of the street.


This was a medieval Dominican Priory built by Robert Savage and his family in 1244.
It was a chancel and nave church with a cloister to the south, but the cloister is now gone.

It was built about 1.3 km southwest from Movilla Abbey. Both the abbey and this priory were burned down by Brian O'Neill of Clandeboye in 1572 to prevent them from being garrisoned by the British troops.
The upper part of the nave was rebuilt in the 14th century and the arcade of the north aisle was built by the de Burgo family.
After the dissolution of the monasteries, the ruins of the priory were granted to Sir Hugh Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of the Great Ards, who built a house within the ruins, rebuilt the north aisle and added the square tower, projecting beyond the main building line, that we now see facing the road. Nice arched doorways with richly decorated porches ornate the north side of the ruins with the initials HLM.
Montgomery is also the developer of the modern Newtownards. He died May 15th, 1636.

Within the church there's the double grave of Frederick Stewart, 4th Marquess of Londonderry who died in 1872, and his wife Elizabeth Jocelyn, Marchioness of Londonderry, who died in 1884.

Unfortunately the ruins weren't accessible on the day of our visit, and we were only able to see the north (15°) side of the building and parts of the east and west gables of the early church.
The rain was a reason of disturb during the visit.


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