Grosmont Priory was one of only three Grandmontine Priories to be founded in England, and was the last to survive, only going at the dissolution of the monasteries.
The Grandmontine order was founded in Normandy in c.1076-1100 by St. Stephan of Triers. It placed a great deal of emphasis on poverty, and was very popular in France. The order was popular with English kings, and there was even an 'English' faction, but a surprisingly small number of houses were founded in England. Grosmont Priory was one of only three (along with Alberbury and Craswall).
Grosmont Priory was founded around 1200 when Joan Fossard, the wife of Robert de Torneham, gave the Grandmontine order around 200 acres of land in the Forest of Egton, stretched along the River Esk. Her husband added to the original grant, which was confirmed by King John in 1213-14. The Priory was built on the site of Priory Farm, which is to the north-west of the modern village, on the opposite side of the River Esk. Grosmont village only dates to the 1830s and was founded when the railway came through.
The original monks may have come from Normandy, but by 1294 they were all English, and the head of the abbey at the time as Roger de Cresswell, suggesting that he came from the sister-house at Craswall. The foundation was sometimes known as the Priory of Eskdale, although it was called 'Gramont' by Pope Urban VI in 1387.
Grosmont was a dependant house of Grandmont in Normandy until 1394-5 when the Abbot of Grandmont gained permission to sell the advowson and property of the priory to John Hewit or Serjeant. This was apparently done in order to sever the connection between the two houses and turn Grosmont into a native English priory rather than an 'alien' house. Alberbury and Craswall were both suppressed well before the dissolution, leaving Grosmont as the only Grandmontine house left in England. The history of the house is very obscure and even the list of priors only includes five names, spread out from 1287 to 1536.
At the dissolution only five brothers were listed, ranging in age from 31 to 68. The priory was clearly not a wealthy institution and had a clear annual value in 1527 of only £14. A few years later that had fallen to £12 2s 8d.
Grid Reference: NZ 82 05