Priory Park was opened in 1932. However, parts of the Park are nearly 1000 years old.
At the southern end of the park, near to The Broadway, are the remains of the 900-year old Dudley Priory. The Priory was one of a network of priories and monasteries that were established in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066.
For nearly 400 years this was home to an order of Monks who followed the traditions of the Abbey of Cluny, in France. For this reason, Dudley Priory and its monks are often described as “Cluniac”.
In the Protestant reformation, which began in England in 1529, many valuable church properties (and their contents) were taken over by King Henry VIII. The monks of the Priory dispersed and the Priory fell into a long decline.
Over the years, the unattended Priory was plundered regularly by local people, who took the building stones to use on their own houses.
Since the 17th century, various buildings have been added and taken away from the ruins. At one point they were used for industrial workshops and cottages. By the early 19th century the remains of the Priory looked pretty much as they do today.
Priory Hall was built under the orders of the Earl of Dudley in 1825. It was occupied by one of his high-ranking servants.
The Hall is now used by Dudley Council as the town’s Register Office.
Priory Park was opened in 1932, to provide recreation space for residents of the newly built Priory housing estate, and to provide a picturesque setting for the historic Priory Ruins and Priory Hall.
Since its opening, the Park has seen a number of additions and alterations.
During World War II (1939-45) the park housed anti-aircraft guns and the Green (the grass area across Paganel Drive from the Park) was dug up and used as allotments.
Later additions to the Park include the lily pond, the nearby terrace with its wooden sculpture and monkey-puzzle trees, plus a shelter.
The children’s play area was added after World War II. It was last refurbished when the multi-use games area was installed, in 2005.
The tennis courts, used by 1930s Wimbledon champion Dorothy Round, are one of the Parks original features. A plaque in her memory can be seen on the Pavilion.
Since 2002 the Park has been supported by the Friends of Priory Park (FoPP), a group dedicated to funding repairs and improvements.