Eight hundred turbulent years of history are reflected in the now calm and delightful house and gardens of Michelham Priory. Founded in 1229 by Augustinian canons, the priory boasts the longest water-filled medieval moat in England, forming a substantial island enclosure of over seven acres. An impressive fourteenth-century gatehouse, built during the threat of French invasion, still guards the entrance, and the Prior's Room gives today's visitor the flavour of life in a medieval religious house. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the main domestic building became a Tudor gentleman's residence and was considerably enlarged into a handsome and comfortable home. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when small estates became less economically viable, Michelham was run as a tenant farm. Today the Tudor reception rooms, the Elizabethan great barn, the working watermill and the forge all reflect Michelham s changing role with the fluctuations of history, while the glorious grounds offer a recreated physic and kitchen garden and a moat walk, and have developed into a significant wildlife haven.
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