Now for a little background information that will hopefully paint a better picture of the area immediately before the building of number 19 Priory Place. I wont go into too much detail on the Priory itself, just to say that it was a Carmelite Priory and covered the whole vicinity as shown on this map. Its borders on todays street scene would be Priory Place, High Street, Cleveland Street and Printing Office Street.
Over hundreds of years the Priory and its grounds fell into disrepair much the same as any old derelict building would. The land and property was purchased at some point by one Alderman Sheardown. Sheardown, a published author who wrote historical accounts on Doncaster describes the site in much poetic detail in the following extract and paints a rather idylic picture of this corner of the town, he states:
Alderman Sheardown felt at ease in his garden; the honoured owner has left on the mind a pleasant picture, as he loitered through the sinuosities of the walks. In spring the fruit trees looked lovely; and the fragrance of flowers, the hum of bees and the song of birds impressed the beholder with a halcyon pleasure. “Ere long the boundaries were laid prostrate, and trees of venerable growth fell to the earth. The scene changed; the ground was pierced at several points, and human bones, of those, no doubt, once associated with the Religious House, were exposed to public gaze. The sound of the axe and the hammer struck harshly on the ear; but there was no help for it”. The owner lingered over the history of the estate, and as a link of the past he declared that to future times it should be known as ‘Priory Place’. On the 23rd December 1880 it was ordered that the corporation do purchase Alderman Sheardown’s land in Priory Place for the use of the public, according to the recommendation of the building committee, for the sum of £300, on condition that Mr Sheardown take down the brickwork under the arch in the gateway in Printing Office Street, which is always to be left as an open and public road; the corporation, taking down and rebuilding the store room, according to the plan produced by Mr Sheardown to the committee and on condition that he do dedicate to the public, forever, a street connecting High Street with Printing Office Street at the width of 42 feet at least from High Street to the arched gateway and that a right of uninterrupted frontage with every appurtenance be secured to the whole of the corporation property occupied by Mr Dennison, Mr Baxter and the corporation of Doncaster.
Priory Place presents a uniform character and for many years one of the principal houses (number 23 north side. For many years, one of the principal houses, number 23 north side, was appropriated for the post office the removal of which to premises in the possession of the ‘Mechanics Library, an institution established on Tuesday 17 January 1836, William, for the best interests of the industrial classes. And which has by force of circumstances become identified with the Young Men’s Christian Association is more convenient for trading and commercial purposes.
Further reading on the history of the Carmelite Priory and the shrine to Our Lady Of Doncaster can be found by clicking here.