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An Introduction to the Priory

John. W. Lamb, M.A., Ph.D

This Bridlington Priory section of the Bridlington web site is dedicated to the memory of John. W. Lamb, M.A., Ph.D. the author of the information within this section, without whom this section would not be possible.

The site upon which the Priory stands has been the scene of civilisation for thousands of years. At Easton and Huntow, two hamlets within the present ecclesiastical parish, flint instruments of the Lower Palaeolithic Age have been found in sufficient numbers to conclude the "Palaeolithic Man", who flourished fifteen to twenty thousand years ago, was here engaged in the industry of axe making.

Many centuries later, during the occupation of Britain by the Romans, this place was probably a Roman station. Parts of a Roman road from the Wolds to the coast are discernible at Easton, and interesting Roman remains are to be seen nearby at Rudston. There certainly appears to have been a flourishing community here in Saxon days, and according to Domesday Book the Manor was valued at £32 in the time of King Edward the Confessor, but by the time the Great Survey, initiated by William the Conqueror, was completed in 1086 its value had fallen to eight shillings.

Much discussion has arisen from time to time concerning the derivation of the name Bridlington. Some think that it is derived from the Norse "berlinger", which means smooth water, thus referring to the calm sea in the Bay. Others think the name is derived from "bridling town", the place where riders, on their journey along the coast, would renew or have repaired the bridles and harness of their horses. Whatever may have been its origin we know that it is called Bretlington in Domesday Book. In the Foundation Charter of the Priory it is given as Bredlington; in the Charter of Henry I it is Brellintona; while in the Bull of Pope Calixtus II it appears as Bridlingtonia. There is sufficient evidence to show that in pre-Reformation days the name Bridlington was chiefly used, but later the form Burlington, often contracted to Burliton, was used along with the name Bridlington. To this day, however, some old inhabitants, especially in the Old Town, delight to use the name Burlington

An excerpt from the references in Domesday Book reads as follows:-

"In Bretlington, with its two hamlets, Hilgertorp and Wiflestorp, there are 13 carucates liable to taxation . . . there are there four burgesses paying tax: eight acres of meadow land, and one church". (A carucate was originally as much land as could be ploughed by one full plough team of eight oxen in a season). A further reference records, "To this manor belongs the liberty of these lands; Martone, Basinghebi, Estone, Bouintone; and another Bouintone, Grendele, Spretone, Bochetone, Fleustone, Stactone, Foxele, Elestolf, Galmetone, Widlafestone". These places can be identified in the modern form of their names, as for instance, Martone is Marton and Basinghebi is Bessingby.