DiCamillo Companion

Chicksands Priory (Chicksand Priory)

  • House & Family History: The Priory of Chicksands was founded circa 1152 by Rohese, Countess of Essex, and her second husband, Payn de Beauchamp, Baron of Bedford. The Priory was part of the Gilbertine Order, a religious order formed by Gilbert of Sempringham (1083-1189), and only one of ten religious houses in England that housed both nuns and canons. Fleeing the soldiers of King Henry II after the Council of Northampton in 1164, Archbishop Thomas Becket is said to have spent time at Chicksands on his journey out of England. Chicksands Priory was officially dissolved on October 22, 1538 by Henry VIII as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. As there were no Gilbertine houses on the Continent, the order ceased to exist after its houses were closed in England. After its conversion to a private house, Chicksands was the seat of the Osborn family for 400 years. The famous letter-writer Dorothy Osborne lived here between her birth in 1627 and her marriage in 1654. The Crown Commissioners bought Chicksands on April 15, 1936; they leased it as a private home until it was requisitioned by the Royal Navy in 1940, after which it became RAF Chicksands Priory. In 1950 the United States Air Force took over; they continued to use the House as a listening post until 1995. In 2001 the Channel 4 TV program "Time Team" excavated sections of the original Priory, uncovering part of what was believed to be the infirmary cloister and several graves.

  • Architect: Isaac Ware

    Date: Circa 1735-40
    Designed: Altered House for Sir Danvers Osborn

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    Architect: James Wyatt

    Date: 1815
    Designed: Rebuilt House in Gothic Revival style for Sir George Osborn

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  • John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: 2.S. Vol. I, p. 187, 1854.

    John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: 2.S. Vol. V, 1829.

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • "Time Team" (2001 - TV).
  • Past Seat / Home of: Richard and Elizabeth Snowe, 1539-87. Osborn family, 1587-1936. Gerald Bagshawe, 1936-40.

    Current Ownership Type: The Crown / Royal Family

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Mixed Use

    Ownership Details: Owned by the Crown Commissioners since 1936.

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Historic Houses Member: No