I recently saw a page on Facebook entitled “Save Kirklees Priory”.  The Priory, in West Yorkshire is being sold by the private family who have owned it for 400 years.  The Gatehouse, a Grade II* listed building is an excellent and well preserved example of early 16th Century architecture.  The Priory buildings do not exist anymore, my searching for information on this was inconclusive as different sources claim that it was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries and another that they just fell into ruin.  The Gatehouse and grounds have not been open to the public and the area is steeped in the legends of Robin Hood.

I would firstly like to point out that Robin Hood is a legend.  As there is no conclusive proof that he existed, or even who he was, he is a legend.  A good legend and one which serves a time when peasantry were poor and the rich and noble were just that.  Legends and myths are often created through a need for hope that there is someone out there who can save people, or fix the way things are.  Robin Hood is a brilliant legend, and hopefully at the time inspired peasants to fight back against their oppressors and share the wealth.  It is my belief that some people may have done this, which is why the identity of Robin Hood is inconclusive.  There may have been a few of them, leading to more stories and inconstencies as to places and people involved.

Back to the point, the Facebook page, it asks people to “save” the Priory.  What are they saving it from?  Itis already in private hands and is a Grade II* listed building, so any alterations, additions or in some cases redecorating has to have permission. (http://www.onlineplanningoffices.co.uk/html/additional_advice/listed_buildings.php/)  The building has been recognised as significantly important so no-one is going to take it on without knowledge if what they are buying.  The page asks for English Heritage or the National Trust to buy it and open it as a museum.  The asking price is £7m (small in comparison to what could be spent on a painting to retain it for the nation).  As a Grade II* building, the suitability and cost of opening it as a museum may be impossible.

I think the message I am trying to get across here is the wording of the page.  Highlighting the fact it is for sale it a good thing, there may be someone out there who can help the Armytage family and place the Priory in good hands.  I just don’t understand what they are “saving” it from!

This webpage appears to be well informed about the history of the place.  http://midgleywebpages.com/armytage.html
In fact, one thing that struck me as interesting is the claim that Henry VIII was particularly interested in the legend of Robin Hood as he claimed to be decended from King Arthur* and this was all linked(!).  With all of the stories about Kirklees being a resting place for Robin Hood, and the king asking for the dissolution of the monasteries, I would have put a gravestone down to prove the truth and save my Priory too!

I would like to suggest an alternative wording, what I would like to say about Kirklees Priory in order to raise awareness that it is being sold and a plea to the new owners.

“Kirklees Priory and Gatehouse is an amazing example of English architecture and is even mentioned in the legends of Robin Hood.  One legend claims that Robin Hood was burried in the grounds and there is a mock grave commemorating this.  Not only is the Priory important to the Robin Hood legend, it is also has a rich history due to it’s importance as a Priory and the changes which took place in England during the Tudor period.  If you buy this property, please be sympathetic to the public.  There are many people who would like to visit this place and have not been able to do so in the past.”

So, I think that “saving” is the wrong word here.  I also question the “like this page to save x” mentality as many likes are not going to save anything.  Using Facebook to raise awareness, not a problem, it is an ideal method of getting information out to many people!  But, I would rather it was approached using facts, figures and highlighting how amazing the Priory is and important to historians and Robin Hood fans all over the world.

*I know, another legend…



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2 responses to ““Saving”

  1. As I think I’m likely to be the seed that led to you seeing the page in the first place, I’ll freely admit that there does seem to be a feel of “DON’T PANIC! DON’T PANIC!” knee jerking in the original “Save Kirklees Priory” page.

    For one, a little more on just “Why?” the page owner feels the Priory is at risk would have helped.

    Still, I’m no stranger to knee jerks, otherwise I wouldn’t have hit “Like” and shared in the first place.

    The owner appears to have then provided information piecemeal. Detailing the salavation element as pretty much “Don’t let 20 individual buyers purchase all 20 lots of the broken down estate and turn it into a business park” (honestly, the last thing Junction 25 of the M62 needs right now is more traffic congestion).

    The page owner had me hooked on that argument alone.. I’m such a NIMBY.

    The lack of public access is an interesting point. The public don’t really have access now, so why should new owners provide it? The estate appears to be two working farms, not a stately home or national park by any means.

    Back in the early eighties, you used to be able to walk to the grave from the beer garden of a nearby pub (The Three Nuns, allegedly haunted by three nuns); I remember not being allowed to go on my own and none of my responsible adults being willing to trek me the mile or so up into the estate.

    Finally, I’d need to trawl through back issues of the Fortean Times and do far more googling than I can be bothered to BUT there have been a couple of “studies” (actually more personal research by people who like arguing about their own “beliefs” when it comes to legends) that have picked up on the absolute fakeness of the alleged grave of Robin Hood.

    The base argument revolving around the date of death on the grave stone (allegedly also haunted, by the vampiric prioress of the original Kirklees Priory – another local legend). The date of death just doesn’t seem to tie in with any other Robin Hood legend, being far too recent for the researchers that I read at the time.

    Finally, on the “Like to Save X” posting, it was maybe a week ago that I initially “Liked” the post because it appeared from one of the local paranormalists on my own facebook feed. I shared it for other local paranormalists to pick up on (they’re a disparate bunch the local ghost hunters, thelemites and pagans – probably best kept that way too).

    I was really surprised at how many of my “friends” from other walks of life picked up on the page and “Liked” it too. The page may not have had a clear message but it has managed to spread that cloudy message across the UK and overseas (a little)… if only there had been a clear aim, goal or message in the original.

  2. This is a copycat organisation who have sprung up out of the blue now the owner has passed away. The owner wanted no one there interfering with her privacy, ashte Yorkshire Robin Hood Society know to their cost–they ahve been trying to “save” the gatehouse for 30 years. Thsi group don9t want to know the YRHS even though the society offered their support–all rather odd dont you think!

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