The first church on the site was built as the chapel of St Mary of the Meadows by Sir Robert de Nerford. In 1217, Sir Robert and his wife Alice decided to found a hospital on the site in conjunction with an Augustinian Priory. 8 years later King Henry III gave the priory Abbey status.
In 1484 fire swept through the priory and the hospital causing extensive damage. Unable to fund the repairs the canons appealed to the King and Richard III and other members of the nobility gave gifts to aid in the rebuilding. Even with this help, the new priory was rebuilt on a smaller scale. This was completed in 1503.
Unfortunately, in 1506 the abbey was devastated by an outbreak of plague which killed all of the canons. The property passed to the crown and was granted by Lady Margaret Beaufort to Christ’s College Cambridge.
The ruins are managed by English Heritage.