White Ladies Priory is a ruined Augustinian nunnery, originally founded as the Priory of St Leonard at Brewood. It is situated in the far east of central Shropshire, under a mile from the Staffordshire border and 8 miles E of Telford. All that remains are the external walls of the church with, to the S, the later wall of a catholic burial ground attached. All of this is in brown sandstone, and the structure stands alone in a field accessed by a narrow lane on the N side of the minor road linking the villages of Albrighton and Bishops Wood. The church dates from the later 12thc, and originally consisted of a 3-bay chancel, short N and S transepts and a 4-bay nave. Both transepts are gone, although the elaborate entrance archto the N transept remains. At the W ends of the lateral nave walls are a pair of doorways facing one another. The N doorway led into the cloister and is descibed as processional in Newman (2006), while the facing S doorway is plainer and narrower. Romanesque features recorded here are the two nave doorways.
Following the account in VCH (1973), nothing is known of the foundation but a community of Augustinian canonesses was fully established before the end of Henry II's reign (1154-89). The site belonged to no parish or manor, being in the Forest of Brewood and VCH speculates that either the La Zouche family, the Lacys or the FitzAlans, holders of nearby lands, may have been involved in its foundation. Be that as it may, no local landowner ever claimed rights over it during vacancies. The convent was dispersed in 1538.
|Height of opening||2.82 m|
|Width of opening||1.12 m|
|L capital height with necking||0.25m|
|L capital max. width N face||0.23m|
|L capital max. width, W face||0.22m|
|R capital height with necking||0.23m|
|R capital max. width, E face||0.27 m|
|R capital max. width N face||0.27m|
Jambs originally with detached nook-shafts, now lost along with their bases. The capitals remain, both of the flat leaf type but not identical:
R capital: Triangular leaves at angles and on edges. A rounded leaf in centre of each face between leaves with pointed tip. One horizontal groove on abacus. Capital much squatter than that on L, abacus larger. Plain necking, some damage.
Label: chamfered, one groove running lengthwise across arch.
Plain, angular jambs. Quirked chamfered imposts and label.
|Height of opening||2.33 m|
|Width of opening||1.05m|
|L capital height including necking||0.18 m|
|L capital max. width E face||0.13 m|
|L capital max. width S face||0.13 m|
|R capital, height incl. necking||0.17m|
|R capital max width S face||0.14m|
|R capital max. width W face||0.14m|
Angle rolls to plain jambs and arch, separated by quirked chamfered imposts
L capital. Flat leaf type. At angle, flat, oval leaf bordered with bead ornament. Similar leaves at corners. Drop-shaped hollow between leaves, weathered.
R capital. Double scallop capital. Recessed shields decorated with a small boss in each, and cones dying into the bell at mid-cap[ital height. Between the cones are rolls descending to the necking. Angle damaged. Plain necking, some damage.
|Height of opening||4.80 m|
|Width of opening||3.07 m|
W capitals. Both are triple scallops with sheathed cones and round notches at the bottom of each sheath.
E capitals. Capitals are badly eroded and roughly cushion-shaped, decorated in relief with worn forms, klargely foliage including fluted and furled leaves. The impost is spongy in appearance.
Damaged engaged nook-shafts, badly worn and broken, carrying capitals with hollow chamfered imposts differeing in detail.
E capital. A convex (bulbous) triple scallop with conical wedges between the cones on the N face. The W face is damaged but treated as vertical foliage stems rather than scallops. The impost is quirked hollow chamfered.
E capital. Damaged capital with paired furled leaves on each of the faces, with a U-shaped linkage, and a palmette on the lower angle. The W face is better preserved. The impost retains vestiges of carving on the face: like a row of eyes with drilled pupils.
R Gilyard-Beer, 'White Ladies Priory', in O J Weaver, Boscobel House and White Ladies Priory, English Heritage booklet, 1987, 2nd ed, 1996, 34-38.
R. W. Eyton, Antiquities of Shropshire, 12 vols, London 1854-60, 2, 187-90.
J. Newman and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Shropshire New Haven and London 2006, 695-96.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Shropshire, Harmondsworth 1958, 316.
Victoria County History: Shropshire, 2, 1973, 83-84.