The Dissolution

Through centuries of war and peace, the Canons continued their daily round of work and prayer. Among the historic upheavals which have left their mark are the Crusades and the Wars of the Roses.

But it was the changes in English religious life under Henry VIII which brought all this to an end.

The nave and ruins in the seventeenth century. On November 15th 1539, the King’s Commissioner demanded entry to the Priory at the Gatehouse. He had brought the order for closure. The Prior, William Stokes and sixteen Canons were to be pensioned off. Over two thousand acres of land, the buildings and the treasures were to be seized by the Crown. All the fine buildings were to be dismantled.
Much of the land and treasures went to the Earl of Shrewsbury on condition that he and his successors as Lords of the Manor of Worksop provided a fine glove for the right hand of the Sovereign at the Coronation – an obligation still in force today.

The townspeople were determined that at least part of the church should remain – after all, they had worshipped there for hundreds of years. Eventually, they were allowed to keep the nave as the parish church, and the Gatehouse as the vicarage. (Later this was to become the first elementary school in England). Eventually, all the monastic buildings were plundered for stone and lead, and collapsed into ruin. The nave was re-designed with large perpendicular windows and pinnacles in an attempt to make it more fashionable.