This is one of the most fascinating monasteries that you are ever likely to come across. Why? Because it is one of the few survivals of a medieval Carthusian house. The Carthusians are the only monastic order to have returned to the original ideals of Eastern monks by practising the life of hermits. They live together only for economic and protective reasons and hardly ever see one another.
Hence, at Mount Grace, there is a large open cloister to make room for the twenty or so little houses in which the monks lived. Each had two storeys and its own garden. The brothers would spend most of their day here alone, praying, meditating & working. Lay brothers did all the hard labour and, after preparing their meals, even placed them in little hatches beside each door so as not to see or disturbed the monks. You can really get a feel for it all in the fully reconstructed cell in the middle of the north cloister walk. Only a very small church was needed as visitors were discouraged and the monks only got together for three of the daily offices rather than the usual long string.
The old priory guest-hall was converted into a grand manor house by Thomas Lascelles in 1654 and extended by the wealthy industrialist, Sir Lowthian Bell, at the turn of the last century. It is now the entrance shop and exhibition rooms, with a delightful Victorian garden outside.
The site is run by English Heritage. There is an entry fee, though Free admission to members.
Next Stop: Rievaulx Abbey