Mount Grace Priory was founded in the year 1398AD as a religious house of the Carthusian order - one of only ten such houses in Britain. This relatively late date also makes it the last monastery to be established in Yorkshire before the dissolution.
The Carthusian order was unique in the respect that its monks went far further than those of other orders in their pursuit of quiet seclusion and contemplation. Each monk lived as a hermit, spending the majority of their day in their own cell, where they would pray, meditate, study, write and eat (a strictly vegetarian diet). These "cells", however, were more akin to small dwellings, with external toilets and small gardens, complete with an open, private cloister. Despite this, the monks were still devoted to a life of simplicity, and their dwellings were spartan affairs, furnished only with the basic necessities.
The history of Mount Grace Priory is uneventful. It is known that it became an important centre for the production of religious texts, but few events are documented during its short life. In 1534AD, some of the monks attempted to resist Henry's attempts to compel them to take the Oath of Supremacy, leading to their imprisonment. In 1539AD, the prior surrendered his church to the king's agents and Mount Grace was dissolved.
Following the dissolution, the priory swiftly fell into ruin. The remains of the guest lodgings were eventually incorporated into later domestic buildings, including a 17th Century manor house.
Today, the walls of the original church still stand to a good height, and the main tower remains largely complete. Most of the other buildings have long since disappeared, but an impression of how the monks once lived can be gained from a reconstructed cell.
Although the modern world has encroached upon it, Mount Grace Priory still manages to convey an impression of solitary and reclusive life which characterised the ethos of the Carthusian order. The unique nature of this site makes it very much worth visiting.