Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Oldest Holiday Resort? (NZ297471)

Finchale Priory is a somewhat isolated, ruinous affair tucked away in a bend of the River Wear about four miles north of Durham City. It has, rather curiously, been used as a holiday resort by one section of society or another for around 800 years.

Its roots lie in the twelfth century when it was the base for Saint Godric, a merchant-cum-sailor-cum-monk, who eventually ensconced himself there as a hermit. It is said that he lived to be more than 100 and to have sat out the last six decades of his life at Finchale. Needless to say, by the time he passed away in 1170, he had become something of a celebrity, having enjoyed many visits from the great and the good.

Soon afterwards, the little collection of hermit-like buildings at this quiet spot in the countryside was ‘developed’ by successive Priors of Durham into a Benedictine outpost of the mighty mother church down the road. For the next three hundred years or so the complex at Finchale slowly grew – though, in all honesty, it was never overly utilised.

The newly-formed Finchale Priory survived as a religious house until 1535 and the Dissolution. For much of its history during 13th-16th centuries it was effectively used as a holiday retreat for monks from nearby Durham, who would go there in groups of four for three-week periods and where they would ‘enjoy’ a slightly more relaxed timetable for the duration.

These days much of the surrounding countryside is taken up with the long-established ‘Finchale Abbey Caravan Park and Eco Village’ – see here.

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1 comment:

  1. I was not aware about its historic importance. Really feel good.