History - Remnants of the Blackfriars Priory
Updated: Feb 14, 2021
It's the name of an area of London, a bridge, a tube and railway station - I assume most of you have heard of Blackfriars. You might know that the name comes from the Dominican Friars who had their priory in the area from about 1276 until it was dissolved in 1536, with the name Blackfriars coming for the black cappa they wore, with the friar bit coming from the French word 'frère' for brother. The priory itself was a vast area and took up quite a proportion of the City of London. As well as being used by the monks, it was also the place for some important events it would seem, with it being used for meetings of Parliament, entertaining guests on their state visits, as well as being the place where the divorce hearing between Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon.
Visitors to the area today are mainly office workers, with it being on one of the main train lines into the City of London, and it will come as no surprise that none of the priory survives today...or does it?
Even today, almost 500 years since the priory was dissolved, it is possible to find remnants of its' history, you just have a dig a little deeper.
The first nod to the past is just outside Blackfriars Station, where you'll be greeted with a jolly black friar perched on top of the entrance to a pub aptly named The Black Friar.
If you're in the area and have time I do recommend stopping off for a quick pint, as the interior is absolutely stunning. It's decorated with copper reliefs of the monks going about the daily business in a wonderful Arts and Craft style.
Walking down the side of the pub, you'll get to Black Friars Lane, another reminder of the areas past, and just on from there you can find a tiny little churchyard hidden away. This was the site of the nave of the church in the Blackfriars priory and after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s it was used as a churchyard for the church of St Ann Blackfriars.
Just opposite is St Ann's Vestry Hall, which quite surprisingly dates back to 1923!
Another graveyard of the church is situated close by, surrounded by modern office blocks, and it's here that you'll find the most concrete of evidence of the Blackfriars priory - a piece of the wall!
I love just finding bits of hidden history across London, don't you?
Heard in London
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