It was much easier to set the question than to produce the answer. Nor does it help that I’m losing track of the days of the week – I’m now functioning on today, yesterday, tomorrow and a shrug of the shoulders.
I hope that this challenge encouraged you to think of some of the places that you’ve visited and read about. I began with the challenge of 23 monastic houses – one for each letter of the alphabet with XYZ counting as one rather than 3 – I struggled for a little while with O. How did you all do? The only reason that I’ve got Quarr on the Isle of Wight is because I’ve visited it. Rather than produce a second separate list I’ve added as many abbeys and priories as I can against each letter of the alphabet – that is not to say that there are 625 of them. If you have them all then all I can say is “How lovely to meet you Mr Cromwell.”
A = Armathwaite, Appleby, Abbotsbury (there’s a huge monastic barn at this site), Alnwick, Abingdon, Axholme, Athelney, Amesbury, Alvingham, Aylesford and Arden. Anglesey Abbey in Camridgeshire was not in actual fact an abbey – it was more of a hermitage. As with Calke Abbey in Derbyshire it was retrospectively enlarged by its secular owners!
B = Brinkburn, Bermondsey, Blakeney, Baysdale, Bolton, Burscough, Blyth, Breadsall, Beauvale, Buckland, Bardney, Barlings, Battle, Beaulieu, Brooke, Bayham, Binham, Bamburgh, Boscobel, Boston, Bungay, Barking, Bath, Beauvale, Beauchief, Bridlington, Bury St Edmunds, Birkenhead, Boxgrove and Byland.
C= Carlisle, Chester, Calder, Cartmel, Conwy, Cardigan, Carmarthen, Cardiff, Clifford, Chepstowe, Cannington, Canonsleigh, Cranbourne, Creake, Canons Ashby, Crowland, Cirencester, Canterbury, Coggeshall, Coventry, Croxton, Clare and Chatteris.
D = Droitwich, Dunster, Dunkerswell, Denny, Dorchester, Dieulacresse, Deeping St James, Dover (x2) Dunstable and Durham.
E = Easby, Egglestone and Evesham.
F = Furness, Forde, Fountains and Faversham,
G= Gisborough, Glastonbury, Gloucester, Garendon, Great Malvern, Great Yarmouth and Godstow
H= Holmecultram, Hornby, Hailes, Haughmond, Hexham, Hurley and Horsham.
I= Ingham and Isleham
J= Jarrow and Jervaulx
K= Kersal, Kirkham, Kirkstall, Kirkstead, Kidwelly and Kennilworth
L= Lancercost, Lytham, Lack, Lenton, Lewes, Lilleshall, Lindisfarne, Leicester and Leominster
M= Malmesbury, Maxstoke, Meaux, Monk Bretton, Monkwearmouth, Mount Grace, Much Wenlock, Milton Abbas, Minster-in-Sheppey and Morville
N= Norton, Netley, Norton, Newark, Nun Monkton and Newstead.
P= Penrith, Pershore, Prittlewell, Plymouth and Peterborough
Q= Quarr (Isle of Wight)
R= Rievaulx, Roche, Ramsey, Romsey, Reading, Repton, Richmond, Rosedale, Royston and Rufford
S= St Bees, St David’s, Seton, Sawley, Selby, Shap, Swine, Sherbourne, Syon House and Shrewsbury
T= Thornhome, Titchfield, Tavistock and Tupholme.
U= Upholland and Usk.
V= Vale Royal, Vale Crucis
W= Warrington, waltham, Watton, Waverley, Whitby, Wymondham, Welbeck, Wetheral, Wigmore and Winchester.
X,Y,Z = York (x2) and Yedingham.
This is clearly not a complete list so if you have any others don’t forget to add them to your tally. If you have more than 50 then you are doing very well indeed!
I shall now have no excuse not to update the History Jar list of abbeys and priories. I started sometime ago but never finished, unlike Thomas Cromwell’s commissioners who did a very speedy job indeed.
Ordinance Survey produced a two volume map (a north and a south sheet) showing monastic houses in 1950. This is not in publication at the moment. There was also a Jackdaw folder produced about the Dissolution of the Monasteries. One of the documents was a map of the monastic houses of England and Wales.
The Abbey Explorer’s Guide by Frank Bottomley contains a comprehensive gazetteer of monastic houses. There is also a book by English Heritage on Abbeys and Priories.