The gatehouse was built in between 1330 and 1340 to fortify the priory and village against raids during the Scottish-English border wars. Originally, there would have been a guardroom on the eastern side of the arch and a porters' lodge on the west, from where alms would be given to the poor.
By 1536, the building also housed the manorial court house, which may explain why it survived demolition during the Dissolution. No longer part of the priory, it served as a prison, then as a grammar school from 1624 to 1790. At a later date, it was also the village shop.
In 1923 the gatehouse became a local museum and meeting room. Although formally donated to the National Trust in 1946 to secure its preservation, the heritage centre is apparently still maintained by the Cartmel Village Society. It seemed to be closed (long-term, I mean) when I passed.
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