Newtownards Priory was a medieval Dominican priory founded by the Savage family around 1244 in Newtownards, County Down.
Only the lower parts of the nave and two blocked doors in the south wall (leading to a demolished cloister) survive from the period of the priory's foundation.
The upper parts of the nave date from a 14th-century rebuilding.
The western extension and the north aisle arcade were undertaken by the de Burgh family.
The priory was dissolved in 1541, and was sacked and burned.
It was granted to Hugh Montgomery, who built a house within the ruins, rebuilding the north aisle and adding a tower at the entrance.
The Priory was subsequently consecrated for use as a parish church.
The Stewart family vault lies within the Priory, as does the large tomb of the Most Hon Frederick William Robert (4th) Marquess of Londonderry, KP.
The Colville vault also exists within the ruins.
The Colvilles were landlords of Newtownards from 1675 until 1744.
The Colville family traces its origins to Scotland in the 1100s, when Philip de Colville settled there following the Norman Conquest.First published in September, 2013.
The first member of the family to settle in Ulster was Dr Alexander Colville. He had been a professor of divinity at St Andrews University before coming to the Province in 1630.
Dr Colville may have been invited to Ulster by Bishop Robert Echlin, whose mother was Grissel Colville. He was appointed rector of Skerry in 1634 and built Galgorm Castle near Ballymena.
His son, Sir Robert, joined the army and in 1651 was a Captain. He married four times. He was knighted at some period between 1675 and 1679, and bought the Montgomery estates at Newtownards and Comber.
Sir Robert rebuilt the ruined Montgomery home, Newtown House, which had been accidentally burned down in 1664. He also built a private chapel at Movilla cemetery.
A relative, Alexander Colville, was brought from Scotland to become Minister at the Presbyterian Church in Newtownards in 1696.
Sir Robert Colville died in 1697, with a memorial at the Priory in Newtownards. His third wife, Rose, died in 1693 and was buried at the Priory.
Their son Hugh died in 1701 aged 25, with a similar memorial.
By 1744, the memorial inscriptions had been removed from the family tomb, described as “...A large Tomb of the Colville Family (to a descendant of which the town now belongs), stands in the North Isle, raised five or six feet above the Floor, but naked of any inscription...”
Hugh Colville's daughter, Alicia Colville (1700-62), sold the estates to Alexander Stewart in 1744 for £42,000.