Central Bedfordshire Unitary Authority
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
The Gilbertine priory of Chicksands was founded about the year 1150 by Rohese, countess of Essex, and her second husband Payn de Beauchamp, baron of Bedford. Payn and Rohese de Beauchamp endowed the priory at its foundation with the church of Chicksands and lands attached. The Priory was of the Gilbertine Order, a religious order formed by Gilbert of Sempringham (c1083-1189). It was only one of nine religious houses in England that housed both nuns and canons. The men and women lived in different buildings and were separated in church by a screen. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, the Priory passed to the Snowe family and then in 1576 to the Osborn family, who owned it for almost 400 years. Elements of the original building remain, but it has been altered over the years, not least in 1740 by the architect Isaac Ware and in 1813 by the architect James Wyatt, who designed the entrance hall, staircase and porch in the Gothic Style.
In 1936 Chicksands Priory estate was sold to the Crown Commissioners.In 1940, after a few months of Navy occupation, the RAF followed and it became known, firstly, as RAF Chicksands Priory. In 1950 the USAF took over and continued on the site until September 1995. Chicksands Priory is a Grade II listed building. The group "Friends of Chicksands Priory" was established in 1975 and tours of the building were offered to the general public until the summer of 1996. They returned to reopen the Priory, following intense restoration, 1997-98, in the Spring, 1999.