At the end of the 14th century, Thomas Holland, 1st Duke of Surrey founded the Carthusian house of Mount Grace Priory.
There is a small church at the centre of the enclave. The tower (added in 1420) and some of the walls still stand, whilst the outline is clear to follow. A feature of the ruin is a recent statue of the Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child in the form of a cross, which combines the symbolism of the birth and crucifixion. The artist, Malcom Brocklesby, title this Madonna and Child when it was made in 1996.
As we found later in the date there is another depiction of this statue in Ripon Cathedral.
Unlike the Monastic foundations at Fountains, Bylands, Rivealux and Whitby (all visited later in our holiday), the Carthusian monks lived alone in individual cells around the Great Cloister, to the north of the church. They only ventured out to attend services in the church. This does mean that although the Priory has a large footprint there were few monks in residence (around 20 to 25).
In their cells the monks slept, engaged in private prayer and meditation, work (e.g. weaving) and had a small garden. Cell 8 has been restored to give the visitor an impression of how the monks lived. As you enter, there is a small hatchway by the door for the monk to receive his meals, with an angle in it such that there is no direct line of sight through it.
Downstairs there are two rooms:
A bedroom with a prayer desk
A study with a table
Upstairs there is one big room, which (in Cell 8) house a loom and other work areas.
Going outside of the cell there is a covered walkway to the latrine and an enclosed garden that the monk would tend.
Following the dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, the Guest House remained intact until substantially altered by Lord Darcy [of Mount Grace] in the mid 17th century.
The residence and the ruins passed through various hands until the 1950s when it was given to the state in lieu of death duties and put into the care of the National Trust, who entrust the management of the property to English Heritage.