The Priory of St Mary of Gisborough was one of the earliest houses of the Augustinian order in England. It was founded in 1119 by Robert de Brus, on land bequeathed by William the Conqueror. (Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, was a descendant of the founder.)
The Norman gatehouse at the western end of the site is the only surviving element of the original Priory. It has survived because in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was used as an entrance to the Chaloner mansion in Bow Street. It dominated the life and fortune of both the town and the surrounding countryside throughout the middle ages when it was said to have supported 500 households.
We know that at least one fire caused catastrophic damage to the buildings in 1289 when it is recorded that a plumber’s mate carelessly left a pan of burning charcoal on the roof timbers while he took a break. The sparks set light to the roof countless precious objects were destroyed together with much of the church building.
The priory was the fourth wealthiest religious house in Yorkshire at the time of the dissolution. Today it is cared for by English Heritage and is a scheduled ancient monument.