My interest in local history is primarily in the history of
Bradwell Priory which was located at a site now known as
Bradwell Abbey in Milton Keynes, North Buckinghamshire.
The monks placed a statue of the Virgin Mary just outside the monastery church to which pilgrims (who were detouring from nearby Watling Street to stay the night) could pray. Many pilgrims prayed for recovery from some ailment.
Some recovered and the statue of the Virgin Mary acquired a reputation for being a miraculous healing shrine.
A niche in the outside church wall was constructed (circa 1285) to hold the statue, and later (circa 1335) a chapel was built around it. Inside the chapel were added wall paintings representing various scenes (circa 1385).
The monastery was so poor it couldn't maintain its buildings and eventually the Pope agreed to it being dissolved (in 1524) when it was given to Cardinal Wolsey.
Cardinal Wolsey had a survey prepared of the whole monastery site. Some of the buildings which were outside the monk's quarters have survived and they can be related to their descriptions in the survey.
The church and the monk's quarters were slowly destroyed but the chapel was retained. The statue was also destroyed and the paintings were hidden with limewash. The limewash has now been removed and many of the paintings, although in poor condition, can again be seen and most scenes can be clearly recognised.
Archaeologists have found the remains of some of the church walls (which has confirmed that the surviving chapel was built against the church) so by using the survey document it is possible to deduce where most of the monastery buildings once stood.