Tuesday, 12 August 2014


Harrold Priory was a religious house serving the community of north Bedfordshire for nearly four hundred years.  The original establishment was shut down during the English reformation and the buildings sold for private use, and in time came to be known as Harrold Hall.  These were then rebuilt and extended over the following centuries until they burned down in 1961.

Harrold Hall in 1957 (Bedfordshire Community Archives)
Now nothing remains of the Priory apart from some isolated traces in the neighbouring St Peter's Church.  The site was redeveloped as executive housing.  Very few records remain apart from a 'cartulary' (a collection of historical legal documents) now in the British Museum.  These were translated in 1935 for the Bedfordshire Historical Society and form the basis of most of what is now known about the Priory.

In this blog we will draw on the cartulary and other sources to try and piece together a picture of Harrold Priory: who lived and worked there, what was its role, what problems did it face?

Harrold is a forgotten priory: it remained small and inconspicuous.  For most of its life it had very little wealth and few high profile patrons. Other similar houses in the region such as the nunneries at Elstow and Chicksands are better known and documented.  These pages aim to put a little more detail around Harrold Priory and the women who served there.


  • Dr.G.Herbert Fowler, Bedfordshire Historical Records Society volume 17 [1935]
  • Venarde, Bruce L. (1997), Women's monasticism and medieval society: nunneries in France and England, 890-1215, Ithaca: Cornell University Press
  • 'House of Austin nuns: The priory of Harrold', A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 1 (1904), pp. 387-390. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=40042 Date accessed: 21 August 2014.
  • Thompson, Sally (1991), Women religioius: The founding of English Nunneries after the Norman conquest, Oxford: Clarendon Press

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