line drawing of the Priory from the sales particulars 1838.
In 1838 Thomas
Hooper gave notice that he was to sell the Priory and move to
Hardington Park. A sale notice reappeared weekly in The Merlin
from the 16th of June until the 7th of July. Besides the Priory
itself, the sale also included several plots of land, a boat-house
and a yacht.
particulars included phrases such as "beggars all description"
and advised that opportunities to purchase such properties occurred
"but once in a century."
was to be sold by auction at the (Kings Head?) Hotel, Newport
on Saturday August 18th and interested parties were advised: "no
person shall advance less than twenty guineas at each bidding."
Robins, the auctioneer, had nothing to learn from today's estate
agents. In the notices which appeared in the Merlin he stated:
Caerleon Priory may be traced, from Historical Records, as far
back as the sixth century; there are still remaining outward and
visible signs which indicate that the town was erected on the
site of A Great Roman City - King Arthur's Round Table in the
meadow upon the verdant lawns - skirting the lawn of the Abbey.
- There are two approaches, the one through the Gothic Gates at
the Lodge, the other passing through the Tranquil winding Cloisters.
- The windows below are of ancient painted glass, shedding the
'Dim religious light' and are finely contrasted with the gay and
lightsome appearance of those above. The bed-chambers are numerous
and all the offices seem to harmonise well. The wavy and shaded
walks which encircle this Elysium are enriched by shrubs and flowers-they
are nothing in extent, but everything in grace and beauty."
But on the
21st of July the following notice appeared in the Merlin:
of our readers will be glad to hear that the sale of the Priory
and of the other estates in the Neighbourhood of Caerleon, belonging
to Thomas Hooper, Esquire, which were advertised - is deferred
'sine die'. Mr. Hooper, it seems, has considered that the attractions
of Hardington Park (great as they unquestionably must be to a
staunch and zealous sportsman) will not afford perpetual compensation
for the loss of the comforts and enjoyments which centre in 'dear
delightful home'... Of Mr. Hooper's second thoughts we highly
in January 1839 Mr. Hooper eventually sold the property to Sir
Digby Mackworth of Glen Usk. The Merlin praised Mr. Hooper for
"His kindness as a landlord, and his candour and affability
as a gentleman" and went on to say he "invited
the whole of his tenantry to the Priory, in order that they might
dine and take a parting glass together."
Lee moved into the Priory as a tenant. He had come to the area
from Hull to take up a partnership in the Dos Works, Newport.
Lee was very interested in archaeology and probably the first
person to apply a systematic study to the antiquity of Caerleon.
It was largely through his efforts that the Museum was established
to exhibit Caerleon's Roman artefacts.