The priory was founded between 1119 and 1129 and was a cell of the Cluniac monastery of Montacute in Somerset. The land was given to the church as an endowment from Matilda Peverel, the daughter of Pagan (or Payne) Peverel, a knight who fought in the First Crusade.
The priory was valued at 2l 1s 8d in the Taxatio Ecclesiastica in 1291-2 and had land in Kerswell, Monk Culm and Sampford Peverell. During the 14th and 15th centuries it had problems as it was an alien priory (under the control of another religious house outside England). The priory was seized at one point during a period of wars in Aquitaine but was restored in the first year of the reign of Edward III (1312). In 1374 it was recorded that prior did not actually live at Kerswell. By the 16th century only two monks remained at the monastery according to Leland. In 1534 the Prior was Thomas Chard and it was valued at 28l 16s 4d. It was dissolved in 1538 or 1539 and was given by Henry VIII to John Etherydge.
The site today
Today a grade II* listed house probably occupies the site of the north, west and east ranges of the priory. The house has a late 16th-century core with 17th- and 18th-century alterations and is rendered, probably over cob and stone, with a stone slate roof. The building contains a re-sited 12th-century stone doorway and is important both for its 17th- and 18th-century features and because of the archaeological interest of the site.
South of the house are the remains of the refectory, which is a late 15th- or early 16th-century building which was mostly rebuilt in the 19th and 20th centuries. Although it is now a roofless ruin, it is a grade II listed building mostly due its archaeological interest as part of the priory complex. It originally had a medieval wind-braced roof, but this was removed in 1984, and is still in storage.
- Oliver, George (1820). Historic Collections Relating to the Monasteries in Devon. Exeter. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
- "Kerswell Priory". Pastscape. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
- Parker, John Henry (1865), "Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society", The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Review , 19: 72, retrieved 29 October 2016
- Dugdale, William; Caley, John; Ellis, Sir Henry; Bandinel January 1, 1849, Bulkeley (1849), Monasticon Anglicanum, 5, p. 171, retrieved 29 October 2016
- "Kerswell Priory Including Walls of Walled Garden List entry Number: 1098042". Historic England. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
- "Ruins of the Refectory South of the House at Kerswell Priory". Historic England. Retrieved 23 October 2016.