Greyfriars Garden
Religious Place Jedburgh Borders

Greyfriars Garden

Religious Place In Jedburgh, Borders

Remains of a 15th century friary in the heart of Jedburgh.

Greyfriars Garden is an unassuming place in the centre of Jedburgh, hidden away behind the car park for the local Co-op. However, it's worth a little detour from the main part of the town to discover some of the history of Jedburgh.

The garden is now somewhere to sit and enjoy a bit of peace, and the layout reflects medieval interest in horticulture. Back in the 16th century, however, it was the home of Franciscan friars, who were followers of St Francis of Assisi.

The exact date of when it was built is not known, though the Franciscan friars were well established in the town by 1505. The friary was the last monastery to be built in Scotland, and was closed after the Reformation in 1560, so was not in use for long. The land was returned to the Ker family of Ferniehirst Castle and was levelled to create gardens and orchards.

You can still see parts of the layout of the old friary which were discovered during an archaeological dig in 1982. The church was the largest building on the site, as you can imagine, and it was here where the friars celebrated their daily services. There were eight services in a day starting from 1.30am (wow!) until 8pm, and between these times they ate their one meal of the day. I'm fairly sure that I couldn't be a monk, as I need at least three square meals per day. But that's by the by.

Other parts of the friary included the Chapter House, Parlour, Reredorter (posh word for loo), the Refectory, Cloister and Cellarium or food store. Some of these buildings are now under the private buildings nearby and underneath the car park, however, you can see the outline of the Cloister, Refectory and Cellarium. There are also three grave stones that you can see on the site, however, there is no information on who they belonged to.

The peaceful life of the priory was shattered in it's short existence on three occasions in the 16th century. English troops under Henry VIII attacked the town in 1523, 1544 and 1545. The friary suffered damage in the attack in 1544 and although recovered, it wasn't long before it closed completely. The monks who lived here were either given their pension or moved to the continent to continue their devotions.

The monks at Jedburgh Abbey were Augustinian Monks and although also Catholic, the abbey was not destroyed during the Reformation, but used as the parish church for the new religion.

There's lots to see in Jedburgh and this was a lovely surprise find on our visit. There is no charge to visit the garden, no charge for the car park and some of the other attractions in the town are free too. As one of the guides we met put it, 'everything is free in Jedburgh!'. Amazing really, as everything we saw was really interesting, and some of the attractions do take donations. Greyfriars Garden was lovely addition to our already full day.

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How To Find Greyfriars Garden

Where Is Greyfriars Garden?

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55.479638, -2.554818

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Where To Park For Greyfriars Garden?

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There is a car park directly opposite the garden which is free.

Contributed by Sandra Clemens

I love the great outdoors and have been a National Trust & English Heritage member for years. I also love going off the beaten track and finding places like Sharp's Folly or Rothley Castle which are hidden gems in Northumberland. My favourite recent hike was climbing Red Screes in the Lake District on a whim, not fully grasping how high 776m was. It was still an achievement to conquer a Wainwright walk and I hope to do more one day.

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Sandra Clemens

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