|Ranton Abbey and Tower, 2005||Ruin of Ranton Abbey, 2009|
The priory of Ranton was founded about the mid 12th century by Robert fitz Noel of Ellenhall, whose father had been granted Ranton by Nicholas de Stafford. It was for canons of the order of St. Augustine. The foundation charter states that the canons of Ranton were living 'under the rule and obedience' of Haughmond Abbey (near Shrewsbury), and this helps to fix the date of foundation. Ranton must have been founded after the establishment of the mother-house at Haughmond (between 1130 and 1138) and by 1166 when some of the witnesses to the foundation charter were dead.
Subsequently there arose a dispute between Ranton and Haughmond over the degree of independence of the daughter house. In 1247, it was agreed that Ranton was to have complete independence but had to pay 100s. per annum to Haughmond. In 1536 Ranton came under the Act for the dissolution of the lesser monasteries. The site was then leased to Sir Simon Harcourt for 21 years but in 1538 the Crown sold it to John Wiseman who later agreed with Harcourt to exchange Ranton for the manor of St. Mary Hoo in Kent. In the 17th century the Abbey was the home of the Cope family.
Abbey House, next to the tower, was built in 1820. In the early 19th century the property became part of the estate of the Ansons of Shugborough, latterly Earls of Lichfield. Abbey House is now a ruin having been destroyed by fire in the Second World War while occupied by Dutch soldiers. There remains the 15th century tower and part of the south wall but it is known that part of the cloisters survived until at least 1663.
The buildings can be viewed only at a distance from a public path. English Heritage has announced that a grant of £50,000 is being given to repair the tower. Let us hope that the provision of public money will lead to better public access. In 2005 the park surrounding Ranton Abbey was a shooting estate and there was no access for the pubic. In 2009, following the death of Patrick Lichfield, the estate has been sold.
From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield,
1851 quoted on the Genuki
Site for Ranton
British History On Line Victoria County History, Staffordshire, Volume III
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