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Pavilion Café

In summer 2019 a new community café facility is opening in Priory Pavilion. Watch this space for more information.

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Dudley Council the historic capital of the Black Country
Dudley Skyline

Opened in 1932 Priory Park has a rich history and can be considered Dudley’s finest historic park.

History of the Park

The Priory was one of a network of priories and monasteries established after the Norman conquest of 1066. The history of the Cluniac Priories of Britain have been extensively researched by the Lewes Priory Trust. Cluniac monks followed the traditions of the Abbey of Cluny (in France) and they were resident on site for almost 400 years. In the lead up to the dissolution of the monasteries which started in 1536, the monks dispersed and the Priory fell into decline. The Priory was plundered and a lot of stone was taken away to be used on houses. Since the 17th century there have been additions and changes to the site with the buildings being used as workshops and cottages. 

The Park was developed for public use by Edward Prentice Mawson. Mawsons plans included walks, planting beds, sports pitches and courts, pavilions/shelters, lawns, tree, hedge and shrub planting and lily pool. All of Priory Park has been designated as a Grade II Park and Garden of Special Historic Interest. It lies within Castle Hill Special Landscape Heritage Area, reflecting the special relationship between the Priory and Dudley Castle.  The Park was opened to the public in 1932.

During World War II the park housed anti-air craft guns and allotments were dug up on ‘the green’ – the area across Paganel Drive.

The Park’s features and Priory were restored in 2013 with a HLF lottery grant, and it now plays a significant contribution to the visitor offer in Dudley.

Priory Ruins

The park is home to the remains of St James’s Priory which is over 900 years old. The St James’ Priory remains are a Grade I listed building. Still evident on site are the boundaries of the various different quarters of the monks, a spiral staircase and some medieval tiles. The whole southern end of the park is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. A lot of archaeology remain hidden below the ground, much of the park area would have been fish ponds for the monks.

Priory Hall

The Earl of Dudley built Priory Hall in 1825 as the home of his Mining Agent. The Hall is Grade II listed and today it is used as Dudley’s registry office and is a popular destination for weddings. The Hall grounds have become part of the park with many splendid mature trees, avenues and unusual features such as a sunken pool garden and rose terraces.

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.

Priory Park Restoration Project

In 2013 a heritage lottery funded project was completed to restore, conserve and enhance the historic landscape and create a park that met modern-day visitors' needs, and provide a varied range of events and activities.  The restoration covered three categories: Building and Structures, Landscaping and the Involvement of the Community through Discover Dudley and volunteering. 

The Pavilion

The existing Pavilion was extended and refurbished to include a multi-use room which is now used as a community centre, classroom for local schools, changing room, refreshment area and training room.  A courtyard was added to the rear of the building, as well as an access route direct from the Priory Hall car park.  

The Pavilion is a welcoming and dynamic hub to the park.

Park furniture

  • New benches, bins and signage boards were installed. The seating is now the same as the original Park seating, first installed in 1932.
  • Welcoming signs were installed at entrance points to the Park. A notice board and panels were added, providing more information to the community on the park and events.
  • The Old Shelter (near the Pond) was given a new roof.

Landscaping

  • Path repair and renovation, including steps.
  • Handrails installed on the steps, ramps added and pathways made more accessible
  • Shrub areas and new tress were planted along with the restoration of the rose garden.

Art work

A statue of Dudley-born Wimbledon tennis champion Dorothy Round was added close to the Park entrance off Priory Road.

The Priory Ruins

Access pathways, lighting and hand crafted medieval floor tiles were added.

Recreational improvements

  • Creation of a mini-soccer area
  • Restoration of the bowling green

Friends of Priory Park

Since 2002 the Park has been supported by the Friends of Priory Park, a group dedicated to funding repairs and improvements. Follow us on Facebook and get involved!