| Harrold Priory,
or Nunnery, deserves special mention because almost certainly it was
the earliest religious establishment in Harrold.
The Priory for nuns was founded by Samson
le Fort around 1138. He was not of a Bedfordshire family, but in
right of his wife, Albreda de Blosseville, held Harrold as a life?tenant
(for the Honour of Huntingdon) until the succession of her son.
Samson was prompted to found Harrold Priory by his kinsman, Hilbert
Pelice, a canon of Arrouaise, and so the Priory was at first a cell
of Arrouaise, c.1145. The distance made the connection difficult,
and in 1177 Arrouaise seems to have ceded its rights to Missenden
Abbey. This also caused friction, and in 1188 Harrold's independence
from Arrouaise was acknowledged and it became an Augustinian priory
under the bishop.
Unfortunately the Priory did not escape
the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII. In 1544 the
site was granted to William Lord Parr, and again, in 1555, to John
Cheney and William Duncombe. The only part of the convent building
which remained was the refectory, later to become a barn and known
by the name of the Hall-barn.
For more information, together with a list of prioresses from 1188 to 1536, click on to the Bedfordshire Community Archive Pages of Harrold.