The photograph above shows The Priory in Castle Street in Thornbury as it was in the winter of 2010/2011. We have not seen inside this building nor have we seen its deeds and we would very much like to learn more about it.
The earliest records relating to the property appear to describe it as the ‘Green House.’ This house and the house next door (now known as Clematis Cottage) were once part of the same building. We have been told by the present owners of Clematis Cottage that in 1983 the two houses were surveyed in detail by Linda Hall for her book “The Rural Houses of North Avon and South Gloucestershire.” Her conclusion was the whole property was probably fifteenth century in origin but possibly earlier.
The Priory is now a grade two listed building that appears on the National Heritage website “Images of England.” This website suggests that the house was once half of a very old house that shows signs of having been modernised in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and extended in the eighteenth century.
The lighter part of the building in the photograph above on the left is called The Priory now and before that it was called Priory Cottage. The view from street level is misleading. The eaves of the whole building (where the roof meets the walls) have differing levels. The higher eaves on the edge of the photograph belong to neighbouring Clematis Cottage. This is a sign that Clematis Cottage was modernised to make a loft space above a lowered first floor ceiling. The Priory’s rooms upstairs appear to have the high ceilings of a former age. The second upper window from the left is under the lower eaves. It belongs to Clematis Cottage and shows that the roof over it was not altered with the rest of the property to which it belongs. This unusual arrangement is just one indication that at one time it was all one building. The right hand “end part” of The Priory also seems to have higher eaves and larger windows, which again suggests a more modern extension
A local historian Paul Wildgoose also says Porch House was built at the same time as Clematis Cottage and altered at the same time, when it was given a 19th century porch. A detailed description of the property appears on the Images of England website.
We have some evidence of the changes that have been made to the exterior of this building in comparatively recent times. The rather poor quality image above on the left confirms that the porch that is now over the main door of the building (see above) was once very different. As the image shows the porch roof was once pitched and tiled with a very elaborate fame. Presumably this porch (as Mr Wildgoose suggests) dates back only to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century which is why it was probably removed during later renovations and replaced with a flat roofed porch.
On the left we have an image of the rear of the building used as a Christmas card, probably in the 1980s and is an indication both how much larger it is from the back than the front and also how rural it must have seemed at one time.
An artist’s impression of The Priory appears to have been produced in the first quarter of the nineteenth Century, judging by the costumes of the ladies in it, and it is shown here on the right. The original painting is held by Sir George White and he has kindly allowed us to reproduce a small section of it for research purposes only. Here The Priory (seen here with the Church immediately behind it) appears to be thatched and does not have a visible porch at all. We can make no informed comment on its accuracy.