Fortified abbey. The Great Gatehouse included statues of the Virgin Mary, St. Egwin and a number of its Royal founders.
The relics of saints said to have been at the Abbey include,
The site was once in an area thick with forest. Legends states the area was originally called Homme and that a swineherd from another Abbey was tending to his animals there when he saw a vision of the Virgin Mary.
There is a record of the Abbey first being destroyed during the reign of King Edmund, when a man called Ealhelm took possession of the site when the king was young. He drove out the monks, took their lands and lived there himself, installing a few cannons to assist him. Eventually the Abbey was returned with the assistance of St. Dunstan.
Two of its own Abbots plundered the Abbey of its valuables, they were Abbot Wulfric and Abbot Oswulf.
Early in 976 Ǽlfhire kicked the monks out and placed Cannons in the Abbey instead. Later in 976 Godwine exchanged Towcester Abbey for Evesham. He then gave King Ǽthelred three hundred mancuses in exchange for Evesham Abbey being his by hereditary right, forever – the King agreed, however, Godwine was not there for long, as the king soon granted it to Bishop Ǽthelsige, and then Bishop Ǽlfstan.
In the tenth century they Abbey, which had not been constructed by builders, fell down. There are no other records of it at the time, but it is recorded when the new Abbey was reconsecrated in 1044. It is alleged that five chests of silver were put forward for the rebuilding, but that was not enough and so the monks took the shrine of St. Egwin on a tour around England to raise the remaining funds.
In around 1012 Abbot Brithmar sued Godwine to return all of the land he had kept which belonged to the Abbey. The Abbott won his case but had to pay Godwine the same amount of gold which had originally been paid over to the King for the whole of the Abbey. The Abbot did so, and the lands were returned.
One of the most well known of the monks from Evesham Abbot was Walter Odington. In 1301 he created an Almanac and in it gave the coordinates of the Abbey. The Almanac included a calendar and texts. This was not the only piece of note that this monk was well known for. He was a smart one and must have had a natural ability with math. He worked out from the stars that the Roman Church had got their calculations wrong and that there had been some kind of corruption to make the dates fit in with their own timetable. He also disputed the lives and times of Adam and Eve – not that must have really annoyed the Church! He calculated that,
Ten generations between Adam and Noah’s flood yielded 2,242 years according to Septuaght, but only 1,656 years according to the ‘Hebrew truth’….lifespans recorded for some of the early patriarchs, which exceeded 900 years, and thus clashed with another passage in Josephus, according to which God bestowed upon early humans a life of 600 years in order to give them enough time to study the motions of the planets and the stars….Odington latched on to a cosmological remark included in the Compotus of Cunestabulus, who taught that those living between the tropics and the equator witnessed two summers and two winters each year, owing to the fact that the sun was found directly overhead twice per annum. In a highly original move, the monk from Evesham Abbey connected this doctrine to a view held by certain scholastic writers, who located the terrestrial paradise on or near the equator…. As a result, their concept of a ‘year’ was different from that used by those currently dwelling in northern latitudes, such that the 930 years of Adam’s life were equivalent to only 465 revolutions of the sun….(Northoft 2016).
Very daring for a monk to make that statement to the Church – you can begin to see why, originally, the Church hated science and scientists!
On the site is the tomb of Simon de Montfort, who died at the Battle of Evesham in 1265 as part of the Second Barons War. One hundred and ninety one miracles have been attested to him before the Dissolution, ensuring a steady stream of pilgrims to the grave site, which in turn meant more funds for the Abbey.
The only building which remains mostly complete today is the Almonry. This was the building which accommodated guests to the Abbey, where Alms were distributed to the poor, and where sometimes, lessons were given to local children. After the Dissolution this building went to Abbot Hayford/Hawford for the rest of his life, and where he lived off of his pension of £240 per year.
Enjoy the timeline for this amazing Abbey….
701 Founded by St. Egwin, 3rd Bishop of Worcester, after seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary.
710-717 St. Egwin was Abbott of Evesham., 3rd Bishop of Worcester.
717 St. Egwin died and was buried in the Abbey church.
717-941 The Abbott’s of Evesham were, in order, Ethelwod, Aldbore, Aldbath, Aldfefert, Tildbrith, Cutulf, Almund, St. Credanus, Thincferth, Aldbald, Ecbrith, Elfred, Wilford, Kinelm, Kinath, Ebba, Kinath, and Edwin.
941 Secular Cannons replaced the monks.
941-969 Held by seculars.
960 St. Dunstan and St. Ethelwold returned the site to the Benedictine Monks and St. Oswald, Bishop of Worcester was made Abbott.
969-976 Oswald was Abbott. The Abbey fell down as it had not been constructed by buildres.
976 The monks were expelled, and secular cannons were installed by Alfhere, Prince of Mercia.
976 Late: Alfhere, Prince of Mercia, was dieing, and he made a monk, Freadgar, Abbott. Freadgar could not get rid of the seculars and he exchanged Evesham with Earl Godwin of Towcester.
976-989 Held by seculars.
977 The Benedictine monks were removed.
989 Monastic site.
989-996 Between: Bishops in order, Bishop Ethelwing, Bishop Ethelston, Adulf, Bishop of Worcester.
995 Foundation of Evesham Abbey.
1012 c: Brithmar was Bishop.
1014 The Benedictine monks were given the site back again.
1014-1044 Alfward was Abbott.
1018 King Cnut gave the Abbey lands at Badby and Newnham.
1020 King Cnut gave the Abbey lands in Gloucestershire, Winchcombe and Northampton.
1034 Alfward was made Bishop of London but remained at Evesham. He made Avitius, Prior of Evesham, Dean of Christianity for the Vale of Evesham.
1040 Churches in the Vale of Evesham were under rule of the Abbey and not the Bishop or Archdeacon of the Diocese.
1044 Alfward died at Ramsey as the monks refused to let him into Evesham.
1044-1059 Manny was Abbott. The Abbey was finally reconsecrated following its rebuilding after falling down in 976.
1055 Edward the Confessor granted Swell Minor and Grafton Major to Evesham.
1059 Abbott Manny resigned.
1059-1077 Ethelwig was Abbott.
1077-1104 Walter de Cerisy was Abbott. He built a new church, the crypts nave and tower. He also increased the monks, but granted Abbey lands to his relatives and gave them offices of Secular Dean and Steward, taking it away from the Prior.
1086 Domesday: Evesham owned lands at Acton, Upton, Witton, Hantune, Sheriff’s Lench, Daylesford, Evenlade, Bransford, Arrow, Kings Broom, Bidford, Temple Grafton, Burton, Exhall, Atherstone, Wiigenshill, Milcote, Weston, Salford, Salford Cornwell, Chiselton, Shipton, Deanfield, Hidcote, Pebworth, Dorsington, Weston Stoke and Kineton. The Abbey held 67 monks.
1100-1108 Blackenhurst was granted to the Abbey in return for four knights’ fees. They provided knights to defend the Abbey.
1102-1122 Robert de Jumieges was Abbott.
1104 Prior Domininc of Evesham wrote about the history and legends of the site and the surrounding area in his books: Victa Sancti Wistani; Victa Sancti Egwini: Victa Sancti Odulfi: and the Acta Proborum Virorum.
1104-1122 Robert de Jumieges granted lands to his relatives.
1122-1130 Maurice, a monk, was Abbott.
1130-1149 Reginald was Abbott and he removed houses of the knights from the garden of the monastery he also built a wall around the Abbey, a parlour, kitchen and guest chamber.
1139 Abbott Reginald made a pilgrimage to Rome to plead liberty against Bishop Simon.
1149-1159 William de Andeville was Abbott and he attacked and destroyed William de Beauchamps castle at Bengeworth.
1150 Knights of Roger of Hungerford invaded the Abbey. William Beauchamp damaged the Abbey.
1159-1160 Roger, monk of St. Augustine’s, Canterbury, was Abbott.
1160-1191 Adam, monk of Cluny, was Abbott and he made improvements, including building the Bell Tower.
1191-1213 Roger Norreys was Abbott and he wasted the lands by indulging on himself.
1195 The monks, led by Thomas de Marleberge, appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Hubert, about Abbott Norreys behaviour.
1198 The monks again appealed to Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury.
1201 Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury came to Evesham to see Abbott Norreys, who had bribed some monks and no action was taken.
1206 November: Thomas de Northwich and Thomas de Marleberge were expelled by the Council of Reading. Thirty monks left with Marleberge. Abbott Norreys sent armed men after them, but the monks held their own. The monks reached William de Beauchamps lands and Abbott Norreys was fearful Beauchamp would side with the monks, so he promised to give them whatever they wanted. The monks returned to the Abbey.
1213 Papal Legate Nicholas of Tosculum visited Evesham Abbey to dispose of Abbot Norreys, for the unjust way he was running the Abbey, which included making the monks beg for food, and some dying of starvation.
1214 Abbott Randulf drew up constitutions.
1214-1229 Randulf, Prior of Worcester, was Abbott and he improved the Abbey lands and built mills, dovecotes, fishponds and cleared some forest trees.
1215 The central tower of the Abbey fell down, damaging the Choir and shrines which had to be rebuilt.
1216 The Constitution by Abbott Randulf was confirmed by a General Council in Rome.
1229 Henry III seized the temporalities for almost a year.
1229-1236 Thomas de Marleberge, Prior of Worcester, was Abbott and he enlarged and improved the buildings.
1232 Lands previously granted to the Knights Templar by the Abbey had still not been returned following their suppression.
1236-1242 Richard le Gras was Abbott.
1243-1255 Thomas of Gloucester was Abbott.
1255 Henry III kept the temporalities that Rome was informed.
1255-1263 Henry, Prior of Evesham, was Abbott.
1256 Henry III was ordered by Rome to assign the temporalities to the Abbott, Henry of Worcester.
1261 The Bell Tower was hit by lightning.
1265 Was the third richest Abbey in England. Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, was at the Abbey when he heard the Royal army was approaching. He decided to ride out and meet them into what is known as the Battle of Evesham. Simon de Montfort was killed. He was buried at the Abbey.
1266 When Abbott Henry died the king again held the temporalities until this date when William de Whitchurch was elected Abbott.
1266-1282 William de Whitchurch was Abbott.
1269 The Bishop was given jurisdiction in the church of Abbott’s Morton only – this ended the long battle between the Bishop and the Abbott.
1272-1307 Edward I granted loans to the Abbots.
1278 The Bell Tower was repaired.
1282-1316 John de Brokehampton was Abbott and he wrote the Evesham Book. He improved the buildings, built granges, made canals and improved churches on Abbey lands with alters and chancels.
1295 New Chapter House was built.
1301 Monk Walter Odington wrote his Almanac.
1308-1316 Monk Walter Odington wrote his histories and legends of the Abbey.
1307-1327 Edward II granted loans to the Abbots.
1317 The new Chapter House was completed.
1317-1344 William de Cheriton was Abbott.
1318 Edward II granted the Abbey the custody of the temporalities.
1319 The central tower had finally been completed.
1332 26th May: Licence to crenellate granted. The Abbey was ‘A Royal foundation subject only to Rome’.
1336 Pope Innocent announced the Abbey wholly exempt from Episcopal jurisdiction.
1336 15th March: Licence to crenellate granted.
1345-1367 William de Boys was Abbott.
1367-1379 John de Ombersley was Abbott.
1379-1418 Roger Zatton was Abbott.
1390 The Evesham Map was commissioned.
14th C Stables and gateway. Attacks were made on properties of the Abbots.
1418 The Abbey held 31 people, some had died of the Black Death. Abbott Zatton let the Abbey fall into debt.
1418-1435 Richard Bromsgrove was Abbott.
1435-c1460 John Wykewan was Abbott.
1452 The Evesham Map was reused and added to.
1460-1467 Richard Pembroke was Abbott.
1467-1477 Richard Hawkesbury was Abbott and he let the Abbey fall into debt stating he had to entertain nobles which had cost a lot of money.
1477 Abbott Upton had managed to pay off the debts of the Abbey.
1477-1483 William Upton was Abbott.
1483-1491 John Norton was Abbott.
1491-1514 Thomas Newbold was Abbott.
1533 A new Bell Tower was built at the entrance to the cemetery.
15th C Almonry. Attacks were made on properties of the Abbots.
1514 Clement Litchfield was Abbott.
1535 The yearly revenue was put at £1,183 12s 9d profit. Alms paid out equaled £55 3s 8d.
1538 Suggestions put forward the monastery should be converted into an educational establishment were rejected.
1538-1539 Petitions to turn the Abbey into a college were rejected.
1539 Destroyed during the Dissolution.
1539-1540 Philip Hawford/Ballard was Abbott.
1540 Abbott Hawford surrendered the monastery to the king and in return received a pension of £240 a year. The church was demolished apart from the tower. After intervention from locals who had helped build the tower. June – Suggestions put forward the monastery should be converted into an educational establishment were rejected.
1540-1547 Ministry of Rolls showed revenue also at £1,183 12s 9d profit.
1541 Stone from the site was taken and used for local building material.
1542 The site was sold to Thomas Hoby for £891 10s.
16th C Bell tower.
1645 25th May: Battle of Evesham – the Abbey was captured by General Massey.
1975 Watching Brief.
1986 Surveyed by Ancient Monuments Laboratory Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission.
1986 Watching Brief
1996 Watching Brief.
1997 Watching Brief.
1997 Watching Brief.
20th C Abbot Reginald’s Gateway, late 13th century chapter house, 14th century stables and late 14th century gateway, 15th century almonry and 16th century bell tower still remain.
2002 Watching Brief.
2017 Excavations – outer wall of the Abbey uncovered.
References & Bibliography
Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (England). 1862. Worcester & Worcestershire Antiquities. Descriptive catalogue of the museum formed at Worcester, during the meeting of the Archæological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland … July 22 to 29, 1862, etc. Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (England).
Barber. P. 1995. The Evesham World Map: A Late Medieval English View of God and the World. Imago Mundi, 47, 13-33. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/1151300.
Beech. G. 1990. England and Aquitaine in the century before the Norman Conquest. Anglo-Saxon England, 19, 81-101. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/44509953.
Birch. W. de G. 1885. A.D. 430-839. Johnson Reprint Corporation.
Bonney. T. G. 1891. Cathedrals, Abbeys, and Churches of England and Wales: Descriptive, Historical, Pictorial, Volume 2. Cassell.
Boureau. A. 2000. How Law Came to the Monks: The Use of Law in English Society at the Beginning of the Thirteenth Century. Past & Present, (167), 29-74. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/651253.
Callahan. T. 1974. The Impact of Anarchy on English Monasticism, 1135-1154. Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, 6(3), 218-232. doi:10.2307/4048243.
Callahan. T. 1978. Ecclesiastical Reparations and the Soldiers of “The Anarchy”. Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, 10(4), 300-318. doi:10.2307/4048162.
Carpenter. D. 2012. The Pershore “Flores Historiarum”: An Unrecognised Chronicle from the Period of Reform and Rebellion in England, 1258—65. The English Historical Review, 127(529), 1343-1366. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/23362194.
Cheney. C. 1961. Cardinal John of Ferentino, Papal Legate in England in 1206. The English Historical Review, 76(301), 654-660. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/558202.
Clark. J. 1994. Bladud of Bath: The Archaeology of a Legend. Folklore, 105, 39-50. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/1260628.
Cotteswold Naturalists’ Field Club. 1895. Proceedings of the Cotteswold Naturalists’ Field Club, Volume 11, pp. 241-246.
Darlington. R. 1933. Æthelwig, Abbot of Evesham. The English Historical Review, 48(189), 1-22. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/552882.
Darlington. R. 1933. Æthelwig, Abbot of Evesham (Continued). The English Historical Review, 48(190), 177-198. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/552700.
Dominic. P., & Jennings. J. 1962. The Writings of Prior Dominic of Evesham. The English Historical Review, 77(303), 298-304. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/561545.
Fletcher. C. 2005. Manhood and Politics in the Reign of Richard II. Past & Present, (189), 3-39. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/3600748.
French. N. 2015. Dublin 1160-1200 Part 2. Dublin Historical Record, 68(2), 227-242. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/24616096.
Haddon. A. W., & Stubbs. W. 1871. English church during the Anglo-Saxon period: A.D. 595-1066. Clarendon Press.
‘Houses of Benedictine Monks: Abbey of Evesham’, in A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 2, ed. J W Willis-Bund and William Page (London, 1971), pp. 112-127. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/worcs/vol2/pp112-127 [accessed 19 January 2021].
Kerr. J. 2008. Health and Safety in the Medieval Monasteries of Britain. History, 93(1 (309)), 3-19. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/24428624.
Knowles. M. D., & Dart. T. 1964. Notes on a Bible of Evesham Abbey. The English Historical Review, 79(313), 775-778. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/560529.
Lepine. D. 2011. Cathedrals and Charity: Almsgiving at English Secular Cathedrals in the Later Middle Ages. The English Historical Review, 126(522), 1066-1096. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/41238872.
Luxford. J. 2014. Architecture and Environment: St Benet’s Holm and the Fashioning of the English Monastic Gatehouse. Architectural History, 57, 31-72. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/43489745.
May. G. I. 1834. The History of Evesham, Its Benedictine Monastery, Conventual Church, Existing Edifices, Municipal Institutions, Parliamentary Occurrences, Civil and Military Events. George I May.
Nothaft. C. 2016. Walter Odington’s De etate mundi and the Pursuit of a Scientific Chronology in Medieval England. Journal of the History of Ideas, 77(2), 183-201. doi:10.2307/jhistoryideas.77.2.183.
Nothaft. C. 2017. Criticism of Trepidation Models And Advocacy Of Uniform Precession In Medieval Latin Astronomy. Archive for History of Exact Sciences, 71(3), 211-244. doi:10.2307/45211917.
Perkins. C. 1910. The Knights Templars in the British Isles. The English Historical Review, 25(98), 209-230. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/550644.
Risdale. E. S. 1884. The Almonry of Evesham Abbey. In Transactions – Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, Volume 9, pp. 128-133.
Sayers. J., & Watkiss. L. (eds). 2003. History of the Abbey of Evesham. Clarendon Press.
Skabelund. D., & Thomas. P. 1969. Walter of Odington’s Mathematical Treatment of the Primary Qualities. Isis, 60(3), 331-350. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/229487.
Spence-James. H. D. M. 1892. Cloister Life in the Days of Coeur de Lion. Isbister.
Spence-James. H. D. M. 1892. The Vanished Abbey. In The English Illustrated Magazine, Volume 9, pp. 595-603.
Theilmann. J. 1990. Political Canonization and Political Symbolism in Medieval England. Journal of British Studies, 29(3), 241-266. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/175729.
Tittler. R. 1987. The End of the Middle Ages in the English Country Town. The Sixteenth Century Journal, 18(4), 471-487. doi:10.2307/2540864.
Turner. D. 1964. The Evesham Psalter. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 27, 23-41. doi:10.2307/750510.
Woodward. D. 1985. “Swords into Ploughshares”: Recycling in Pre-Industrial England. The Economic History Review, 38(2), 175-191. doi:10.2307/2597142.
Wormald. F. 1934. Seals of Evesham Abbey. The British Museum Quarterly, 8(3), 93-94. doi:10.2307/4421588.
Yeager. S. 2011. The South English Legendary “Life of St. Egwine”: An Edition. Traditio, 66, 171-187. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org.rp.nla.gov.au/stable/23631382.