Reigate Priory Museum
Reigate Priory Museum
01737 222550 (afternoons)
Reigate Priory is a grade 1 listed building set in 65 acres of open parkland with a pond, woodland and playing fields only a few hundred yards from the centre of Reigate town, which is situated at the foot of the North Downs. The building is home to Reigate Priory Museum and Reigate Priory School. The Priory was originally founded before 1200 and was converted to a mansion in Tudor times following the Dissolution of the Monastries. In June 1541 Henry VIII granted the Manor and Priory of Reigate to Lord William Howard, uncle of Catherine Howard, Henry's fifth wife. Reigate Priory became the family home and the old monastic buildings were converted to become a comfortable Tudor mansion.
The Museum is open from Easter to early December, every Wednesday and Saturday during term time. Opening hours are between 2pm and 4.30pm. School and adult groups are very welcome but should book in advance.
Public admission is free.
There is a wide entrance, and once inside, the building is generally accessible for wheelchair users as the doorways are wide and everything is on the ground floor. Refreshments can be arranged for booked parties. There is a gift shop.
The museum presents exhibitions on a wide range of subjects designed to appeal to both adults and children. It has a collection of local history and domestic items as well as period costumes. These are used within creative and atmospheric settings to stage exhibitions depicting various aspects of life in the past. Exhibitions are changed on a regular basis.
Costume and Textiles, Personalities, Social History
Key artists and exhibits
- Holbein Hall Fire Place: A stone fireplace was built into the north wall of the great hall with the Howard arms carved in the pointed arch, a lion rampant carved at each corner. On the outside a hugh chimney stack was constructed with three Tudor brick chimneys. In the early 17th century a magnificent carved oak fireplace surround was installed at Reigate Priory around the Howard stone fireplace. It was said to be designed by Hans Holbein and was originally commissioned by Henry VIII for Nonsuch Palace in Ewell. Later the fireplace surround was installed at Bletchingley Place, possibly for the divorced Queen, Anne of Cleves, and moved to its present position at Reigate Priory by 1655.
- 17th Century Staircase: Sir John Parsons, a wealthy brewer, purchased the manor and lands in 1681 as a home for his large family. He commissioned a beautiful new staircase which was constructed in the Great Hall between 1681 and 1685. A graceful design was used decorated with fine parquetry.
- The Verrio Murals: Murals and ceilings were painted with scenes from Roman myths by Antonio Verrio, the famous Italian artist who worked at Hampton Court, at Chatsworth and at Burghley. On the ceiling above the staircase gods and godesses gather together for the marriage of Juno and Jupiter. On the south wall, Pluto can be seen abducting Proserpine. On the north wall Hercules is choosing between Wisdom and Folly.