Eastry, Prior (biog)

Henry Eastry (born about 1239-died 1331) joined the Benedictine priory of Christ Church as a young man, became prior in 1285, and held the post for the next 46 years. Under his leadership the priory flourished. The much improved financial base meant the priory could buy land, improve farming methods, and engage in major new building works – including the choir screen and Chapter House (later developed with new roof and widows) in the cathedral, and monastic buildings such as the brewery. Eastry was so revered that he was the only prior to be buried east of the crossing.  It is only in modern times that historians have become certain that this tomb is that of Henry Eastry.

What to see:

  • the only Canterbury full tomb commemorating a Prior
  • the realistic effigy of Henry as an old man – he died in his early 90s
  • the mass vestments Henry wears, with hands clasped
  • the faint traces of medieval paint still to be found on the figure and on the vaulted canopy above.
  • the vacant niches either side – these probably originally held images of St Syth and St Apollonia, both of which were mentioned in inventories associated with his will
  • note that the Prior Eastry tomb is significantly lower than the nearby Archbishop Reynolds tomb (died 1327) – a Prior can never upstage an Archbishop!

Sources:  see standard sources