|Location||Leez Ln, Hartford End|
|Town or city||Chelmsford|
|Client||Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich|
Leez Priory is a 16th-century mansion in Little Leighs, a small parish in the district of Chelmsford in the county of Essex, England. The civil parish boundary between Felsted and Great Waltham crosses the priory, so that it partially lies in Felsted and partially in Great Waltham. The priory was designated a Grade I listed building in 1952.
In 1220, Sir Ralph Gernon decided that the hamlet of Leez, in a dip by the banks of the River Ter, would provide the perfect location on which to found his monastery. His Augustinian priory thrived for over 300 years. King Henry VIII sent Sir Richard Rich to dismiss the monastery, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-1541). When Sir Richard Rich became the Earl of Warwick, he built his own great house on the site that is now known as Leez Priory. The remains of the Augustinian Priory are very much in evidence within the grounds to the south of the existing buildings, including extensive underground drainage conduits. Known as "Delicious Leez", both the site and the rose-brick buildings are breathtaking, with old garden walls and fish ponds indicative of life and times past.
In his recent book on the origins of the English Civil War, John Adamson has emphasised the magnificence and political radicalism of Leez Priory in the 17th century. He concludes that in 1640 Leez and its owner, Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick, were probably the “topographical and moral centre” of opposition to the King.
Much of it was demolished in 1753. At this time the property was purchased by Guys Hospital, London. Guys Hospital were still the owners in 1910, and for some time the property had been rented out as a private residence.
In the late 1980s, Leez Priory was purchased by its current owners, The Country House Weddings group. In May 1995, Leez Priory became the first country house in England to be granted a licence to conduct civil ceremonies.
- Adamson, John, The Noble Revolt, (London : Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007) pp. 25–26
- Clark, Ross (2005-04-02). "Get me to the house on time". The Telegraph.
The buyer was the Country House Weddings Group, which already owns Leez Priory near Chelmsford, a 15-bedroom house that it has been using for weddings since the mid-1990s. With 80 weddings a year, Leez Priory is now running at full capacity, hence the need for an alternative property.
- Leez Priory, Great and Little Leighs, British Listed Buildings, accessed 20 June 2016.
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