Follow us on twitter OVLMagazine Find us on Facebook OVL Magazine 47 exemplary religious leader he was not necessarily good at financial or practical matters and later Newnham Priory got into debt to Italian merchants perhaps because of enlarging the monastic buildings. In the thirteenth century Simon a hermit had a following of young men also wishing to be hermits at Welbury in Renhold but as he grew older he bequeathed the charge of them and his hermitage and property to the prior of Newnham. Benefactors might give for some specific purpose as Robert son of Ralph gave the priory 4 shillings rent in Bedford for a light in the infirmary chapel or for masses to be said for the soul of the donor. Three generations of the Triket family lords of Toft Manor in Sharnbrook gave various amounts of land and rent. The priory was given other parcels of land in Sharnbrook and by 1300 that land was consolidated into Ouse Manor. The priory also held the livings in a number of parishes. Hundreds of documents show land and property as well as money were given to the priory particularly in the thirteenth century. Those who gave to the priory did so from their surplus and in the hope of future benefit even if post mortem. The monastic life was held to be the best and most pleasing to God. The monasteries were repositories of learning and cared for the sick in their infirmaries which became hospitals. Their strictly regulated day began with the first service at 2 am. They prayed for the souls of their benefactors alive and dead. The Augustinians were involved with their local communities and ran a school in Mill Street as well as ministering to the poor. The priory was a community resource and the Dissolution of the Monasteries an early example of privatisation. Those with power acquired what had been church property at a beneficial to them rate. John Gostwick knighted in 1540 a courtier and paymaster for Wolsey then for Thomas Cromwell was well-positioned to acquire a number of monastic properties Newnham Priory among them in 1541. Some of the stone was used for his manor with dovecote and stables and probably extensions to the church at Willington. The Newnham site was granted or leased to Urian Brereton and by 1559 Sir Robert Catlin chief justice was residing there. The wall made of stone from the priory topped with what look like Tudor bricks was probably a garden wall perhaps round the meadow called the Great Garden. Before the end of the wall the metalled path turns off to the left and back to the central area of the park but continuing on the footpath to the end of the wall there is a T junction. After a short diversion to the left to check out what looked like a large reptile rearing out of the Ouse a fallen willow I continued to the right. Behind the fence to the right were the priory fishponds. Monks had to obey dietary restrictions fish on fast days - of which there were many - as well as Fridays. Fish would include eels taken in some numbers in traps at the priorys mills. After reaching the footbridge with views of the pyramid I turned back alongside the wall and turned in at the private entrance to the Marina to see the wall clear of weeds. By the public entrance is information about the John Bunyan community boat - this is equipped for wheelchair access - and a journey in either direction along the Ouse is well worthwhile. There is no other sign of the priory - any remains are under the Aspects leisure centre. Medieval field boundaries were found before the main area was excavated for gravel digging and then flooded providing a different sort of community resource.