Kirklees Priory

Robin Hood’s Final Destination


In the ballad called The Death of Robin Hood, Robin, as an old man suffering from some unspecified illness, goes to Kirklees Priory to have his cousin, the prioress, bleed him as a cure.  But the prioress betrays him and lets him bleed near to death, then sends her lover, Red Roger, to attack the weakened Robin with his sword.  Robin manages to kill Roger, but succumbs to blood loss himself.  And so, according to tradition, Kirklees became Robin’s final resting place:


And there they buried bold Robin Hood,
Within the fair Kirkleys.



The photo above depicts Kirklees Park in Yorkshire as it exists today, a private estate owned by the aristocratic Armytage family, surrounded by a 6 foot high stone wall.  In the middle ages, it was the site of a priory, or convent, which was dismantled at the Reformation, save for the gate house, pictured below, which is now in a state of near collapse.



Yes, there I am, in fine outlaw form, trespassing on the grounds of Kirklees estate.   I’m standing in front of the dilapidated medieval gatehouse, which is thought to be the structure from whence Robin Hood shot his last arrow, to mark his grave site.


I’m afraid I never actually got to the grave site itself.  Just moments after this photo was taken, I was caught in the act by Lady Armytage, the current dowager-in-residence, who was just arriving by car.  She was not best pleased to find me there, no matter how scholarly my intent, and despite the fact that I had been encouraged to proceed by stonemasons repairing the boundary wall, who erroneously assured me that the landowners had no objections to the occasional on-foot visitor.  When I apologized for the intrusion and explained my interest in the Robin Hood legend, Lady A. ‘graciously’ replied, “Well you’re here now, aren’t you?  There’s not much I can do about it”.  Charming!  Given this chilly reception, I thought I had best not push my luck, and so, instead of asking permission to see Robin Hood’s grave,  I told Lady A. that we would return immediately to the public footpath just outside the wall, which we did.


On the way out, however, we did snap a picture of this medieval structure, which the stonemasons informed us was originally the brew house associated with the priory:



Although the Armytage family seem to want to keep the historical link between their estate and the Robin Hood legend a deep dark secret from the general public, Her Majesty’s royal cartographers are less reticent, and clearly mark the spot of Robin Hood’s Grave on their detailed Ordinance Survey Maps, at SE 174 215, in the town of Mirfield, just north-east of Huddersfield: