Originally part of the medieval monks’ dormitory, over the centuries Prior’s Hall has changed many times.
Today the Hall is one of the rooms at the Cathedral used for special events. It is not usually open to the public.
Where is this space?
Prior’s Hall is behind the cathedral cloister, in an area called The College.
How is it used today?
Prior’s Hall is used for many different activities, including conferences, talks, business meetings and art events. It can also be hired for private events and parties.
From Dormitory to Hall
Probably built in the late 1000s, the Hall was originally the southern end of the monks’ dormitory, when it was on the east range of the Cloister. The Dormitory had moved across to the west range (its present position) by the mid-1200s, as when the Chapter House was enlarged and extended in the 1100s it became a double-storey building. This meant it cut through the previous dormitory above it, reducing its size and cutting off access to the Cathedral. The remnants of the old dormitory building at the south end were eventually absorbed into the Prior’s residence (now the Deanery), where it was adapted as a spacious hall for the Prior to entertain his guests
A Decorated Space
The entrance to the Hall features beautiful wood panelling. This was installed as part of a programme of extensive refurbishment within the Deanery in the 1660s. It is believed that Dean John Sudbury (1661-84) transferred wainscoting from the Refectory, which he was in the process of converting to a Library. If this is the case, it means that the panelling was originally made for Prior Thomas Castell (1494-1519), although it has been heavily restored over the years.
Also displayed in the Hall are extraordinary panels of hand-painted wallpaper on silk. These are Chinese, dating from the 1700s, and were added around 1913 by Dean Herbert Hensley Henson (1912-18) for his wife Ella. Dean Henson used similar wallpaper to decorate the ‘Solarium’, the main sitting room in the Deanery.
Wheelchair users and visitors with limited mobility
Prior’s Hall is not accessible without using stairs. There is a chairlift on the main stairs to the anteroom. There is then a short flight of steps with handrails to access the Hall.
Prior’s Hall is generally a quiet environment, but it can be crowded and noisy during special events.