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Kirklees Priory
Mirfield Kirklees Priory

Kirklees priory stood in the grounds of the Kirklees estate to the rear of the Three Nuns dating back to the 12th century, it was given official charter in 1236. It was a Cistercian Priory. The nuns wore white cassocks and lived life to the very strict rules of a Benedictine Order, no meat was eaten, no possessions allowed and life was lived in a very simple puritanical fashion.

The Priory Gatehouse.

In keeping with this the priory would have been of a simple  and basic nature. Nothing remains today of the priory buildings but the 1916 Holbech drawing gives an impression of how it may have looked based on records and archeological excavations that took place in 1902. Descriptions of some of the buildings taken from the survey by King Henry VIII's commissioners mention the following:
"The Church - 80ft x 20ft roof covered with slate, glass windows 50ft of glass, with a high alter, 2 alter in the choir, 2 beneath and 22 stalls in the choir for the Nuns.
The Cloister South of the Church -  40ft square breadth 7ft, 3 parts covered with slate, chambers over the other parts, without any glass.
The Chapter House on the East of the Cloister - 16ft Square, under the dormitory with 3 little windows 6ft of Glass.
The Dormitory - 40ft long 18ft broad, covered with slates.
A Parlour under the dormitory - 18ft square, with a chimney, 2 bay windows, containing 30ft of glass.
The Refectory - 34ft long and 18ft broad, stone wall, no glass covered with slate.
Five Little Chambers over the West end of the cloister for the Ladies and others to work in -  covered with slate.
The Hall at the West end of the Church - 30ft by 21ft , without glass.
A Parlour at the upper end of the hall - 24ft by 16ft, no glass.
The Prioress Chamber at the North Side of the nether end of the Church - 24ft by 16ft timber walls, no glass.
The Infirmary at the nether end of the Refectory - 19ft square, old stone walls, a Chimney and no glass."
The number of nuns at the priory would be few, small priories such as this serving as homes and refuges for the aged, widowed, and orphaned along with those who joined the sisterhood through calling. The nuns were provided for by donations and in a deeply religious age land or money was often donated or bequeathed to the order in return for the promise of regular prayers for the benefactor. Through this practice some orders amassed great wealth and power through land rents. Unfortunately this was all to come to an end in1539 when Hennry VIII announced the dissolution of all monasteries. At this time their were only eight nuns remaining at the priory, the Prioress Joan Kippax along with four others took up residence at Paper Hall. (Now demolished but stood on Flash Lane). The remaining three, Cecilia Topcliffe, Joan Leventhorpe and Katherine Grice, so the story goes, opened a tavern on the edge of the priory, that many years later would be renamed after them - The Three Nuns.

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