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Published July 31st 2012
Visit one of the oldest buildings in Southend-On-Sea
Set amongst 45 acres of beautiful gardens lays one of oldest buildings in Southend-On-Sea, Prittlewell Priory. The priory's museum is just five minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Southend's town centre and coastline in the tranquil and historic parkland of Priory Park.
The newly resorted Prittlewell Priory museum is a grade 1 listed building which used to be part of a Cluniac monastery. The building dates back to 1180, where medieval monks and the Victorian Scratton family once lived. Since 2010 the building has been shut to the public whilst it has been thoroughly restored with a 1.3m pound grant from the lottery fund. The doors of the museum finally opened in spring 2012 and are accessible to everyone and to all ages.
The ground floor of the priory enables visitors to step back in time of the Victorian Scratton family with fully furnished rooms, interactive information points and photos of the Victorians which once lived in the priory. There is also a chance to explore how the monks would have lived in the building with underground chambers and an opportunity for the kids to dress up like a monk. Original artefacts are displayed throughout the building; of which have been found in and around the priory. Additionally, there is even a tomb displayed that once contained a body of a former monk.
Towards the back of the building there is a large dining room containing pottery found in and around the priory, which would have been used throughout history. Visitors can admire the beauty of the building from this room, whilst learning about the food and cooking essentials which would have been used.
The second floor offers visitors a great view of the restoration with its large historic rooms and a balcony overlooking the dining room, where speeches would have been made before a meal. A must see on the second floor of the priory is the original documents sent to the priory from king Henry VIII, which until now have never been displayed. The 1.3m grant from the lottery has enabled the museum to have low carbon technology installed in order to keep original artefacts like this restored and displayed to the public. The second floor also has an interactive wildlife room that educates visitors about the wildlife found in the 45 acres of land around the priory. This experience is also just as entertaining for the kids as it for us adults.
The quality of the restoration along with the artefacts and historic information make visiting this museum worthwhile. Most importantly, the staff that work in the newly restored priory are very knowledgeable about the history of the priory and offer to give you information about the artefacts without having to ask.
Entry into the priory is free, but a small donation can be made if you wish. The park also offers free parking to the priory and to the rest of the park. As well as the priory the park is a great day out for the family with beautiful rose gardens, ponds and a park. If you take a good look around the gardens by the priory you can also find historic ruins which are very educational and fascinating. The grounds also have a band stand where classical bands often play during the afternoon. This is definitely a perfect spot for a picnic. Priory Park supplies a great day out for the family, although a picnic is a must as the café is very basic in selling just cold drinks, chips and ice-cream. During the summer there are also free Shakespearean shows performed just outside the priory, which are very entertaining and educational for the kids.