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.
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.