The Augustinian Priory of St Denys was founded c.1124 by Henry I in the district now called after it in the vicinity of Priory Road. In 1127 Henry made two grants of land to the priory. Later, Richard I gave the priory the manors of Portswood and Northam and the church at Chilworth, which is still named St Denys. Other monarchs also gave land and property to the priory, but in spite of this the house was never wealthy and the canons were often in financial difficulties.

At the Dissolution in 1536, at which time there were nine canons still in residence, the priory and site were granted to Sir Francis Dawtrey and its other possessions disposed of. The fabric of the priory buildings subsequently decayed and it may be that some materials were used for building and repairs elsewhere. In c.1778 the priory and manor were purchased by General Stibbert of Portswood House who built a new farmhouse to replace the existing farm buildings. In 1857 the priory site was acquired by T A Skelton, who by the purchase also came into possession of the 1658 Map of the Priory of St Denys and Manor of Portswood, which he presented to the Hartley Institution. (See entry for Portswood Manor House for a picture of the map.)

Very few fragments of the priory remain. A last section of a wall with an arch still survives at no. 2 Priory Avenue (image 2). Another arch was taken down in 1913 and re-erected in Tudor House Garden, where it remains. Both fragments are Grade II listed.

1. St Denys Priory

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Engraved by Richardson, possibly from a drawing by S. Hooper and published by Alexander Hogg of London, c.1780

2. remaining fragment of St Denys Priory

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photograph, 1941


see also


Further reading:
History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p433-442. (HS/h)
The Cartulary of the Priory of St Denys Near Southampton, by E. O. Blake. (HS/j)
Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt, 26-28, 205-210. (HS/h)
'The Priory of St Denys' by A H Skelton in Hampshire Field Club Proceedings, Vol. 3, 1894-97, p155-169 (with description of the map by G W Minns p164-169) (H/f)


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