Whitby Abbey, Whitby, North Yorkshire


Abbey Ruins, Whitby
c. 1940

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Founded by Oswy, King of Northumbria, in about 656, the first abbess being St Hilda. Destroyed by the Danes in circa 870 and refounded for the Benedictines by Reinfrid, one of the soldiers of William the Conqueror. Extensive ruins of the church from early Cl2 to Cl4.
Historic England

In about 1078 a monk called Reinfrid founded a new monastic community at Whitby. At a very early stage in its history this community split and the two parts each developed into a fully fledged Benedictine monastery: one on the headland at Whitby and the other at St Mary’s Abbey, York. The Benedictine monastery initially probably had timber buildings or reused the Anglian ruins on the headland. About 1100 a stone church and conventual buildings were built in the Romanesque style, as well as a large parish church close by. In the 13th century the monastery church was rebuilt in the Gothic style. This was a massive undertaking, including major landscaping of the whole site, though there is no documentary evidence for it. The first building campaign is dated on stylistic grounds to about 1225–50. The eastern arm, the crossing and transepts, a central tower, and part of the nave were built before funds seem to have run out. Work appears to have been resumed on the nave in the 14th century, but it was not finished until the 15th century.
. . .
The shell of the abbey church was substantially complete until the 18th century. It was weakened, however, by erosion from wind and rain. The south transept collapsed in 1736, much of the nave in 1763, the central tower in 1830 and the south side of the presbytery in 1839.
English Heritage


Plan of Whitby Abbey, Whitby Abbey, Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, Official Guide-book, 1952

The early years of the convent were stormy and its history is confused. The community soon incurred the enmity of the founder and was, besides, set upon and pillaged by sea pirates and local robbers. There was probably a split within the convent itself, one part under Stephen retiring to Lastingham and ultimately to St. Mary’s, York, and the other, under Reinfrid, remaining at Whitby or perhaps temporarily at Hackness. Better times came when Serlo de Percy, brother of the founder, joined the community and became Prior; he was followed by William de Percy, a son of the founder, who became Abbot. From the last decade of the eleventh century, the monastery flourished and became third in value of the Benedictine houses of Yorkshire, after those of St. Mary’s, York, and Selby. In the second half of the twelfth century there were between thirty and forty monks at Whitby. Under Abbot Richard of Peter¬ borough (1148-75) Eystein Haroldson, King of Norway, made a raid on Whitby in or about 1153, burnt the town and laid hands on all the spoil that he could carry off. The only episcopal visitation of the monastery on record is that made by Archbishop Multon in 1320, when the monastery was heavily in debt. Nothing was seriously amiss but the monks were forbidden to go out of the monastery with bows and arrows; furthermore the Abbot, Prior or monks were forbidden to keep their own or other people’s hunting dogs in the convent and if any dog got in, it was to be caught and soundly beaten. By the end of the fourteenth century, the numbers of the convent had fallen off but there were still some twenty monks. The later Abbots had the right to the use of the mitre, ring and staff, and the clear value of the house before the Dissolution was estimated at ^437 2s. 9d. a year. The abbey was surrendered to the King’s Commissioners by Henry Davell, the last Abbot, on 14th December 1539
. . .
There is no direct documentary evidence for the dates of the re¬ building of the Abbey church, which must in consequence be assessed on architectural evidence only. It would seem that the general rebuilding was begun at the east end about 1220. The setting-out was faulty, which led to the marked deviation to the north of the axis of the presbytery from that of the nave. There is little or no difference in date apparent throughout the eastern arm of the church but the north transept, which followed in sequence, is perhaps twenty years later, and with this campaign of building went the south transept, the first three bays of the nave and the central tower. The rebuilding of the remainder of the nave was not undertaken till the fourteenth century and the great west window was a work of the fifteenth century. Samuel Buck’s view of the church (1711) shows that the clerestory of the nave was also much altered or rebuilt in the fifteenth century.
Whitby Abbey, Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, Official Guide-book, 1952


General view from west in 1789, before collapse of Central Tower, “Whitby Abbey, Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, Official Guide-book”, 1952

Abbey Gateway, Reading


The Abbey Gateway, Reading
1904-1908
Publisher: Knight Brothers (British Mirror Series)

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The Abbey Gateway was originally the inner gateway of Reading Abbey, which today is a large, mostly ruined abbey in the centre of the town of Reading, in the English county of Berkshire. The gateway adjoins Reading Crown Court and Forbury Gardens and is one of only two abbey buildings that have survived intact, the other being the Hospitium of St John the Baptist. It is a grade I listed building, and includes a porters lodge on the ground floor and a large open room above the gate. The gateway marked the division between the area of the abbey open to the public and the section accessible only to monks, with the abbot’s lodging just inside the gateway. The gateway thus became the meeting place between the abbot, who commanded considerable powers within the town, and the people of the town.
Wikipedia.


“Reading Abbey gateway”, by Rev. Thomas James Judkin, 1788-1871 (Wikimedia Commons)

The Abbey Gateway divided the monks’ private living quarters from the more public areas of the abbey. In the 1560s, Queen Elizabeth I turned the abbot’s house, which stood just through the gateway, into a royal palace. After Elizabeth’s death, the palace fell out of use and eventually new houses were built alongside the gateway. In the 18th century one of them was home to the Reading Ladies’ Boarding School, which used the gateway as a classroom. From 1785-86 a particularly talented pupil studied here: the future novelist Jane Austen. In 1861 the Gateway collapsed in a storm, shortly after funds had been raised for vital conservation. Instead the Gate had to be substantially rebuilt. This work was completed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, a Victorian architect known for his Gothic Revival work.
Abbey Quarter

Prittlewell Priory, Southend-on-Sea, England


Prittlewell Priory: Prior’s Chamber
1930s
Publisher/Photo: Trade Studio

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Houses of Cluniac monks: Priory of Prittlewell

Prittlewell Priory was founded by the Cluniac Order in the early 12th century as a cell to the Priory of St Pancras at Lewes, Sussex. It was one of the lesser monasteries housing not more than 18 monks. In 1536 much of the building was destroyed and what remained was much altered during the 18th Century. Alterations were made again in the early 20th Century, when the Refectory was restored and partly rebuilt. A number of original features do survive, including a 12th Century doorway with chevron and dog tooth ornamentation.

After the Dissolution the Priory was a private residence and it was granted to Lord Chancellor Audley, who conveyed it to Robert, son of Lord Rich. It afterwards passed with the manor to various families. The last family to live there, the 19th Century Scrattons, are explored in an exhibition inside the house. In 1917 the building was purchased by Robert Jones, and in May 1922 it opened as Southend’s first museum.
Southend Museums

Southends on sea is a rather built up area today and as far as history goes it is not that old. However not far from Southends town centre lies a park which has been around for 900 years and is the oldest building in Southend which has been continually occupied. Prittlewell Priory has existed since the 12th Century and the land, which now makes up the park, was once all owned and managed by the Clunic monk s who resided there, mainly, in silence. Only parts of the original priory exist today in the form of a very small but informative museum. The Priory grounds are still accessible to all members of the public including the ponds which the Monks used to fish themselves, the refectory, priory chamber, cellar, a 12th century doorway with chevron and dog tooth ornamentation and parts of the wall.
For The Love Of History

The first religious building at Prittlewell, a small wooden oratory, was replaced by a stone church around 1150. This was partly excavated in the 1920s and its outline, 50m-60m in length with an apsidal chancel and side chapels to the south, can still be traced from exposed sections of the foundations which remain on display within the lawns to the north east of the museum. The priory range was enlarged from 1180 onwards with the refectory, chapter house, dorter (monks’ dormitory) and other buildings arranged around the cloister garth at this time. The Priory Museum (a Grade I Listed Building which is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included) retains substantial elements of the priory range – principally the 12th century refectory and 14th century prior’s chambers which, respectively, formed parts of the southern and western arms of the claustral range. The 14th century prior’s chamber, built from local septaria and chalk rubble (mostly refaced with brick in the 19th century) retains an original crown post roof and overlies earlier cellars.
Historic England

St. Mary’s Abbey, York


St. Mary’s Abbey, York.
c.1910
Publisher: Sampson, York

Google Street View.

Postcard for St Olave’s Church

The original church on the site was founded in 1055 and dedicated to Saint Olaf. After the Norman Conquest the church came into the possession of the Anglo-Breton magnate Alan Rufus who granted the lands to Abbot Stephen and a group of monks from Whitby. The abbey church was refounded in 1088 when the King, William Rufus, visited York in January or February of that year and gave the monks additional lands. The following year he laid the foundation stone of the new Norman church and the site was rededicated to the Virgin Mary. The foundation ceremony was attended by bishop Odo of Bayeux and Archbishop Thomas of Bayeux. The monks moved to York from a site at Lastingham in Ryedale in the 1080s and are recorded there in Domesday. Following a dispute and riot in 1132, a party of reform-minded monks left to establish the Cistercian monastery of Fountains Abbey. In 1137 the abbey was badly damaged by a great fire. The surviving ruins date from a rebuilding programme begun in 1271 and finished by 1294.
Wikipedia.

The abbey estate occupied the entire site of the Museum Gardens and the abbot was one of the most powerful clergymen of his day, on a par with the Archbishop of York. In medieval York, the abbey sat opposite and mirrored the Minster: two great buildings dedicated to worship. The monks would spend their days working in abbey administration, copying books, trading with merchants, providing food and supplies for the monastery, managing the abbey’s estates and helping the poor.

Visitors can see the remains of the walls of the nave and crossing of the abbey church, where the monks prayed and sang, and the cloister, where the monks washed their clothes, contemplated and were allowed to speak. . . . King Henry VIII banned all monasteries in England in 1530s. The monks at St Mary’s were pensioned off in 1540 and the abbey buildings were converted into a palace for the King when he visited York. Gradually they fell into ruins and were used as agricultural buildings before being excavated by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society in the 1820s.
York Museums Trust

Netley Abbey, Netley


Southampton – Netley Abbey
Publisher: J. Baker. The Camp Stores, Hazeley Down, Winchester

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Netley Abbey is a ruined late medieval monastery in the village of Netley near Southampton in Hampshire, England. The abbey was founded in 1239 as a house for monks of the austere Cistercian order. Despite royal patronage, Netley was never rich, produced no influential scholars nor churchmen, and its nearly 300-year history was quiet. The monks were best known to their neighbours for the generous hospitality they offered to travellers on land and sea. In 1536, Netley Abbey was seized by Henry VIII of England during the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the buildings granted to William Paulet, a wealthy Tudor politician, who converted them into a mansion. The abbey was used as a country house until the beginning of the eighteenth century, after which it was abandoned and partially demolished for building materials.
Wikipedia

Sir William Paulet’s mansion was occupied until 1704, when the owner sold it for building materials. The abbey was only saved when a demolition worker was killed, causing work to cease. When this house was abandoned, however, and the neglected site became overgrown with trees and ivy, it came to be celebrated as a romantic ruin. As the ‘Romantic Movement’ grew in strength, many authors and artists visited the abbey to find inspiration. Set among the wild, wooded slopes above Southampton Water, overgrown Netley appeared to be the perfect medieval ruin. John Constable came to paint here, and writers such as Thomas Gray enthused about the abbey.
English Heritage

Cellarium, Fountains Abbey, Ripon, North Yorkshire


Fountains Abbey, Cellarium
c.1910

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UNESCO World Heritage listing

Founded in the 10th century, the ornate religious complex known as Fountains Abbey remained in active use for over 400 years and miraculously continues to stand in much its original form despite being denounced in the 1500’s.
Atlas Obscura

The original abbey church was built of wood and “was probably” two storeys high; it was, however, quickly replaced in stone. The church was damaged in the attack on the abbey in 1146 and was rebuilt, in a larger scale, on the same site. Building work was completed c. 1170. This structure, completed around 1170, was 300 ft (91 m) long and had 11 bays in the side aisles. A lantern tower was added at the crossing of the church in the late 12th century. The presbytery at the eastern end of the church was much altered in the 13th century.] The church’s greatly lengthened choir, commenced by Abbot John of York, 1203–11 and carried on by his successor, terminates, like that of Durham Cathedral, in an eastern transept, the work of Abbot John of Kent, 1220–47. The 160-foot-tall (49 m) tower, which was added not long before the dissolution, by Abbot Huby, 1494–1526, is in an unusual position at the northern end of the north transept and bears Huby’s motto: Soli Deo Honor et Gloria. The sacristry adjoined the south transept.

The cloister, which had arcading of black marble from Nidderdale and white sandstone, is in the centre of the precinct and to the south of the church. The three-aisled chapter-house and parlour open from the eastern walk of the cloister and the refectory, with the kitchen and buttery attached, and are at right angles to its southern walk. Parallel with the western walk is an immense, vaulted substructure serving as cellars and store-rooms, which supported the dormitory of the conversi (lay brothers) above. This building extended across the river and at its south-west corner were the latrines, built above the swiftly flowing stream. The monks’ dormitory was in its usual position above the chapter-house, to the south of the transept.
Wikipedia.

Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, England


Glastonbury Abbey – Judges Ltd
Publisher: Judges Ltd

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Glastonbury Abbey: Archaeological Investigations 1904–79 (online book)

The abbey holds a special place in English identity and popular culture. In the middle ages it was reputed to be the burial place of the legendary King Arthur and his queen Guinevere, and was regarded as the site of the earliest church in Britain, thought to have been founded by Joseph of Arimathea. According to the Gospels, Joseph was the man who had donated his own tomb for the body of Christ following the crucifixion.
Glastonbury Abbey Archaeology

“The First Christian Church in Britain.”

The abbey was founded in the 7th century and enlarged in the 10th. It was destroyed by a major fire in 1184, but subsequently rebuilt and by the 14th century was one of the richest and most powerful monasteries in England. The abbey controlled large tracts of the surrounding land and was instrumental in major drainage projects on the Somerset Levels. The abbey was suppressed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII of England. The last abbot, Richard Whiting (Whyting), was hanged, drawn and quartered as a traitor on Glastonbury Tor in 1539.
Wikipedia

When the monastic buildings were destroyed in the fire of 1184, the medieval monks needed to find a new place to worship. There is evidence that the 12th century nave was renovated and used for this purpose for almost 30 years, until some of the work was completed on the new church. The monks reconsecrated the Great Church and began services there on Christmas Day, 1213, most likely before it was entirely completed.
Glastonbury Abbey


Choir & Site of High Altar, Glastonbury Abbey
c.1920
Same publisher as “Abbot’s Kitchen” card at bottom

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St Botolph’s Priory, Colchester, England, UK


Colchester Abbey
Publisher: Christian Novels Publishing Co.

Google Street View

As can be seen from its ruins in the picture, there was once a considerable early Norman Church here. St Botolph’s Priory was founded in the late 11th century as the first British house of the Augustinian Canons. The church was built of rubble and also Roman bricks, brought from nearby Roman ruins in Colchester.
British Library: Inside View of St Botolph’s Priory at Colchester in Essex.

Founded about 1100, St Botolph’s was one of the first Augustinian priories in England. An impressive example of early Norman architecture, built in flint and reused Roman brick, the church displays massive circular pillars, round arches and an elaborate west front. It was badly damaged by cannon fire during the Civil War siege of 1648.
English Heritage

St. Botolph’s Priory was a medieval house of Augustinian canons in Colchester, Essex, founded c. 1093. The priory had the distinction of being the first and leading Augustinian convent in England until its dissolution in 1536. . . . The priory was dissolved in accordance with the Act of 1536. On 26 May in that year it was granted with all its possessions, including the manors of Blindknights, Canwikes and Dilbridge to Sir Thomas Audley. Audley had licence on 12 September 1540, to grant the site of the priory to John Golder and Anastasia his wife.

As the priory had been an Augustinian house, and therefore the church had both parochial and conventual functions, the nave was retained as a parish church. The choir, which had been solely for the use of the canons, was not spared however, and was demolished along with the cloisters, chapter house and associated buildings. The church remained this way until the Siege of Colchester in 1648 during the Second English Civil War.[6] A Royalist army had seized the town, which was then surrounded and bombarded by the New Model Army led by Thomas Fairfax, with St Botolph’s being caught in the crossfire of the assault on South Gate, reducing it to its present ruinous state.
Wikipedia.

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 2 (1907) “Houses of Austin canons: Priory of St Botolph, Colchester”

Bolton Abbey and Stepping Stones, Skipton, North Yorkshire


Bolton Abbey and Stepping Stones.
Postmarked: 1909
Publisher: Valentine

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Synonymous with Bolton Abbey, the stepping stones were the crossing point for the lay workers at the Priory.
Bolton Abbey

The monastery was founded at Embsay in 1120. Led by a prior, Bolton Abbey was technically a priory, despite its name. It was founded in 1154 by the Augustinian order, on the banks of the River Wharfe. The land at Bolton, as well as other resources, were given to the order by Lady Alice de Romille of Skipton Castle in 1154. In the early 14th century Scottish raiders caused the temporary abandonment of the site and serious structural damage to the priory. The seal of the priory featured the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child and the phrase sigillum sancte Marie de Bolton. The nave of the abbey church was in use as a parish church from about 1170 onwards, and survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Building work was still going on at the abbey when the Dissolution of the Monasteries resulted in the termination of the priory in January 1540. The east end remains in ruins. A tower, begun in 1520, was left half-standing, and its base was later given a bell-turret and converted into an entrance porch. Most of the remaining church is in the Gothic style of architecture, but more work was done in the Victorian era, including windows by August Pugin. It still functions as a church today, holding services on Sundays and religious holidays.
Wikipedia.

Established in the 12th century, the Priory community grew and prospered, attracting wealthy patrons, enabling investment in local farms and mills which in turn funded the development of the Priory. The Priory was added to over the centuries, and even had to be temporarily abandoned in the early 14th century when Scottish raiders threatened, and some damage was done to the priory. Restoration and building work were still underway until 1539 when King Henry VIII seized the assets of monasteries across the land.
Dales Discoveries

Abbot’s Kitchen, Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, England

Postcards of Glastonbury Abbey


Abbot’s Kitchen & Refectory, Glastonbury
c.1920

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In the 14th century, as the head of the second wealthiest abbey in Britain (behind Westminster Abbey), the Abbot of Glastonbury lived in considerable splendour and wielded tremendous power. The main surviving example of this power and wealth is to be found in the Abbot’s Kitchen – part of the magnificent Abbot’s house begun by John de Breynton (1334-42).
Glastonbury Abbey

To the south-west of the cloister, a separate complex of rooms provided grand accommodation for the abbot and his guests. Today, the standing buildings consist of the kitchen and one corner of the giant hall, begun after 1322 and completed by 1342. They formed parts of a palatial residence of three ranges, arranged around a central walled garden.
Glastonbury Abbey Archaeology (includes digital reconstruction)

The Abbot’s Kitchen is a mediaeval octagonal building that served as the kitchen at Glastonbury Abbey in Glastonbury, Somerset, England. It is a Grade I listed building. The abbot’s kitchen has been described as “one of the best preserved medieval kitchens in Europe”. The stone-built construction dates from the 14th century and is one of a very few surviving mediaeval kitchens in the world.

Historically, the Abbot of Glastonbury lived well, as demonstrated by the abbot’s kitchen, with four large fireplaces at its corners. The kitchen was part of the opulent abbot’s house, begun under Abbot John de Breynton (1334–1342). It is one of the best preserved medieval kitchens in Europe and the only substantial monastic building surviving at Glastonbury Abbey. The abbot’s kitchen has been the only building at Glastonbury Abbey to survive intact. Later it was used as a Quaker meeting house.
Wikipedia.

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