priory was built by Sir Robert Savage for Dominican Friars, the
priory stands less than a mile from the much earlier Augustinian
Abbey of Movilla founded by St Finian. Both houses were burnt by
Brian O'Neill in 1572 to prevent them falling into the hands and
being garrisoned by the English.
Much of the present
day profile of the Priory owes it origins to Hugh Montgomery, first
Viscount Ards, an English planter granted the town and surrounding
area in the early seventeenth century.
He remodeled the ruined building for Anglican worship,
and added the square bell tower projecting beyond the building into
Court Street, his initials HLM are carved above the arch of the
In 1817 a new church was built
in Church Street, for about thirty years the priory was used as
a courthouse, giving the street its present name, after which it
was abandoned and fell into ruin. In 1860 it was consecrated as
a burial place for the Londonderry
family of Mountstewart.
The image on the left shows
the priory today with the protruding square tower added by Montgomery,
the priory is not open to the public.