Quarr Abbey

DSC_0202According to the Wotton Bridge Historical website medieval Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight was originally called the Abbey of our Lady of the Quarry because there was a stone quarry in the nearby Binstead. Also according to the website, and quite interestingly, Quarr stone was used in the Tower of London, Winchester Cathedral and Chichester Cathedral.

Baldwin de Redvers, Earl of Exeter and fourth lord of the Isle of Wight founded the abbey in 1132. The abbey was founded originally as a daughter house of Savigny. Savignac monks joined with the Cistercians in 1147 -white monks on the Isle of Wight. Their monastery, the largest on the island, was enclosed by a wall which stretched around the thirty-acre site- much of the wall still stands. Part of the reason for the sturdy wall, which can be seen from the sea, was the monastery’s maritime nature. Ready to offer care to passing mariners the monks were also prepared to defend themselves from passing marauders- principally fourteenth century French types. The wall apparently contains two of the earliest gunports in Britain (http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/English%20sites/1571.html accessed 2/7/2015 21:59).

It is a matter of contention as to whether Princess Cecily, daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville was buried in Quarr Abbey. She was married first to Viscount Welles (if we discount the marriage that Uncle Richard III arranged to Ralph Scrope which was annulled in 1485 so that Henry VII could marry her off to his adherent).  Her second marriage was to Thomas Kyme of the Isle of Wight unfortunately this love match irritated Henry VII because Thomas was no match for a Plantagenet princess especially when she hadn’t asked nicely first. However, apparently, Cecily got on very well with Margaret Beaufort –Henry’s illustrious mother. She intervened on Cecily’s behalf. The problem is that Thomas Kyme’s links to the Isle of Wight are unclear and Cecily died on the mainland in 1507 – in Hatfield.

More practically demonstrable is the fact that in June 1513 Lord Howard, in command of the Mary Rose took station off Quarr.

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At its height there were fishponds, granges and extensive abbey buildings of which very little remains today. In 1535 the annual net income of the abbey was valued at £134. It’s value meant that it was suppressed in 1536. The islanders tried to save the abbey by demonstrating to the commissioners that the monks who lived there did much to relieve the poor as well as offering food and shelter to passing seamen.  Their words fell on stony ground.  By 1540 the abbey had been completely demolished and the stone used to build new coastal fortifications at East and West Cowes. There are few remains of the monastic buildings apart from a section of the lay brothers’ dormitory which is now part of a barn.DSC_0205

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One response to “Quarr Abbey

  1. Susan Abernethy

    Very interesting Julia!

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