Posts Tagged ‘Leiston Abbey’

Leiston Abbey in the 14th and 15th centuries would have been only one of many similar monastic houses which frequented the country-side of England. What is probably most remarkable about this site is the remains which depict how the Abbey was used after the suppresion of the Monasteries.

In 1530 the Abbot and the monks at Leiston were evicted from the Abbey and the property was given to the Duke of Suffolk who turned it into a Farm. He used some of the original walls to build a farmhouse and converted the Abbey Church into a barn.

Farmhouse incorporating walls from Abbey buildings

Farmhouse incorporating walls from Abbey buildings

farmhouse built into Abbey remains

farmhouse built into Abbey remains

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In the 16th century a new gatehouse was added.

Remains of 16th century Gatehouse

Remains of 16th century Gatehouse

Artist's impression of buildings during the 16th century

Artist’s impression of buildings during the 16th century

Further changes were made during the Georgian period, although generally the remains of the Abbey and its church were not maintained.

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In 1918 the site was bought by Ellen Wrightson, who restored the Lady Chapel as a place of prayer, and between the wars retreats were conducted there. On her death in 1946 the property passed to the Diocese of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich. The Ministry of Public Building and Works assumed custody of the ruins in 1964 (now managed by English Heritage). The retreat house was purchased by the Pro Corda Trust in 1977. Pro Corda is a UK youth music organisation providing a continuous and progressive programme of education through the medium of chamber music and ensemble training to young people aged 5 to 24. The site is also now managed as a Wedding and events venue.

Leiston Abbey (1)

Posted: March 24, 2015 in History, Medieval History
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West end of Abbey Church

West end of Abbey Church

The history of Leiston Abbey dates back to the 14th century when it was first built and occupied by a group of Augustinian Canons, who saught to live away from the main-stream of medieval life. Their first Abbey had been built at nearby Minsmere in the 12th century. However this site was prone to frequent flooding and in 1360 they moved down the coast to Leiston. They took much of the building materials from the original site for re-use but a small fragment of the original Abbey buildings can still be seen in what is now the RSPB nature reserve at Minsmere.

The West end of the Abbey buildings

The West end of the Abbey buildings

Abbey Church

Abbey Church

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Artists impression of Abbey Church in 14th century

Artists impression of Abbey Church in 14th century

It seems they lived an unremarkable life here as there is little mention of the Abbey until the suppresion of the monasteries in 1530.