|Chicksands Priory (1)
Although it is unclear when they were originally built the Doomsday Survey
of 1086 records two Manors and St. Mary's Church at Chicksands. The spelling
of 'Chicksands' has changed many times over the years some examples are:
1086 Chichesane, 1161 Chikessant, 1242 Chikesend, 1370 Chikesoundene, 1388
Chixham, and 1457 Chyxsond.
In 1150 a Manor was granted the Gilbertine order, and in 1317 the second
manor at Chicksands was conveyed to the Gilbertines. There were a pair of
adjacent cloisters one for men and one for women.
The Priory was substantially enlarged over the next decades. The massive
oak beams still supporting the south range of the current roof is of the
15th century, as is the stained glass Oriel window in the upper east wall,
although it is possible that not all the glass is original.
*Two legends relating to Chicksands have been passed down during the centuries,
one concerns secret tunnels that possibly run from the Priory to local Churches
of nearby villages of Clophill and Haynes and to the old bakery building in
Shefford (which is now Barclays Bank). None have these have been confirmed.
The other is that of a disgraced nun Rosata who was walled up in the Priory
(the Priory's east wall does have a false window) it is said that her ghost
roams the Priory at night. Accounts of numerous sightings and experiences
were documented in 1958 in Legends & Lore.
After the dissolution in 1538 the Priory was leased and later conveyed to
the Osbourn family who owned it for 400 years.
St. Mary's Church on the Chicksands Estate remained a place of worship but
from 1592 disappeared from the record books. The building fell into
ruin and the stones were used for other buildings. The old Priory building
fell into disrepair and by the end of the 16th century only the nuns' cloister
could be used for human shelter.
*11/2010 I had the following e-mail from a local gentleman
'Back in 1977 in the ruins of that building (between the walls) and on
the Chicksands side corner was a shaft (broken stairs) that led down into
a tunnel. Where the tunnel went you couldn’t tell because you couldn’t
get very far'.
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Shefford, Bedfordshire, UK (map)