A new Abbey was built on the site early in the 20th century of red Belgium brick. This Abbey is not included in the following history. The below relates to the original Abbey which was Dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539.
The Abbey got its name from the quarries around the area, which also supplied some stone for the Tower of London. In its Foundation Charter it is called The Abbey of Our Lade and St. John. The site was surrounded by trees of Oak and Elm and was next to the sea on the north side of the Isle of Wight.
Founded by Baldwin de Redvers. Originally housed Benedictine Monks from a monastery near Auvranches in Normandy, and then very soon after Cistercian Monks from Savigny. Believed to originally have been a Daughter House of Savigny, this is still being debated, but Savigny did supply the first monks, including doctors, to the new Abbey.
The Abbey had their own ships which sailed to and from France and the West Country. They were only a handful of ships licensed by the King to do so.
The site was given a Licence to Crenellate in 1340 following threats of an attack from France. Fortifications included a crenellated wall which and enclosed the 30 acres of the Abbey, and a Seagate with a portcullis, During the French treats, during 1327-1377, Quarr Abbey provided four Men-at-Arms for the King and included armed retainers.
The site included a Great Church, library, cloisters, kitchen, refectory, infirmary, Chapter House, farm buildings, and fishponds. There was a gate located at the southern end of the site where Alms were handed out. It also included a bridge that the Abbey maintained, mills, salt works, lands in Newenham, Cumbly, Arretone, Basselegh, Lovecombe, Staplehurst et Cleybrooke, Renebrette, Shete, Sandecumbe et Cumbleton, Bamsteade, Froxore, Soroup et Gueye, Wroxall, Whippingham, Shalfleet, Benchurch, Wellow, Knighton, and some minor holdings. The churches of St. Nicholas, endowments from the Manors of Arreton, Haseley, Cantley, and Newnham. Tithes of Wilfield, Thalcombe, Luccombe, and Ticklingham. Most of this was in the original Charter and granted by Baldwin de Redvers.
The Abbot held a seat in the House of Lords, demonstrating how important it was considered. It was also granted a weekly market and fair.
There were over 500 Charters for the Abbey and many survive today in different archives. There are 28 Deeds which survive from the too. And it is mentioned in the Annals of St. Werburg as a daughter House of Savigny. One early Charter is from Engler de Bohun, granting Haseley to Quarr Abbey. It was signed in Normandy and witnessed by Serlo, Abbot of Savigny, and later Confirmed in the reign of Henry II.
There is also a Papal Bull from Pope Gregory IX giving Licence for the Abbot and Convent of Quarr to choose a Confessor from their own brotherhood in 1238.
Following the Dissolution, some of the stone was taken away to assist in the construction of Yarmouth Castle.
There are two traditions or stories associated with Quarr Abbey They are as follows,
There exists a fantastic tradition that Eleanor, Queens of Henry II was imprisoned at Quarr, and loved to wonder about the sequestered glades, affecting them so much that she directed her grave should be made ‘beneath the shade of the melancholy boughs.’ And so, even now, the peasant names this spot ‘Queen Eleanor’s Grove. (Adam 1856).
It was rumoured that the Queen was indeed buried there within a golden coffin, and many have dug around trying to locate it. Nothing has been found, except a wooden coffin which contained human remains. What happened to the coffin and the remains are not lost in time. Was it indeed Queen Eleanor?
The other relates to Monk’s Meade, near Ryde,
An Abbot of Quarr frequented the farmhouse at Ninham, where he and his horse were comfortably entertained. Wherefore he bequeathed to its successive tenants the first crop of hay, in alternate years, off these meadows, as long as a stone image was preserved at Ninham. (Adams 1856).
Known to have been buried in the original Quarr Abbey were,
Not much of the original buildings survive thanks to the demolition and removal of stone from the Abbey following the Dissolution, by John and George Mills who bought it. Parts of the kitchen and refectory remain, as well as the Infirmary chapel. The old dormitory used as a barn, and the old north west range now forms part of the new Abbey. The west range now forms part of Quarr Abbey Farm.
Below ground some archaeology still remains and also includes finds of
Walls, foundations, pillar bases, demolition rubble, building materials, lime mortar, roof tiles, glazed floor tiles, window glass, pottery, animal bones, oyster shells and tobacco pipes.
Timeline for Quarr Abbey,
1131 Building started on the site by John the Fleming, brought over from Belgium/Holland by Baldwin de Redvers.
1132 Founded by Baldwin de Redvers, 1st Earl of Devon, Lord of the Isle of Wight. Benedictine Monks from a monastery near Auvranches in Normandy were bought to run the Abbey.
1135-1154 Many lands were granted to Quarr Abbey, including land at Locwelle in Normandy by Henry, Duke of Normandy, later Henry II.
1140 Gervaise was Abbot.
1147 Cistercian Monks from Savigny were bought to run the Abbey.
1150 William was Abbot.
1154-1189 Between: A early Charter from Engler de Bohun confirmed by Richard, son of Baldwin de Redvers. Henry II confirmed lands he had granted to the Abbey previously, before he was crowned.
1155 Baldwin de Redvers died and was buried at the Abbey.
1195 Charter confirmed by William de Vernon, Earl of Devon.
1205 Peter of York was Abbot.
1206 Charter dated from granting lands to the Abbey from William de Vernon – two hundred acres. He also paid £300 for prayers to be said for Earl Baldwin, Adeliza, his elder brother Richard, Mabel his wife, and Baldwin his son, and for a monument to be erected when he died.
1228 Henry was Abbot.
c.1235 Philip was Abbot.
1238 Papal Bull from Pope Gregory IX giving Licence for the Abbot and Convent of Quarr to choose a Confessor from their own brotherhood
1249 Augustine was Abbot.
1256 Andrew was Abbot.
1270 Hel or Elias was Abbot.
1278 Buckland Abbey was founded with some of the monks from Quarr Abbey.
1279 Isabella de Fortibus withheld lands her mother had granted to the Abbey. The Abbey and lands were taken into Royal Protection to ensure the lands were returned.
1284 Free Warren over the Abbey lands on the Isle of Wight was granted by Edward I.
1290 Adam of Arundel was Abbot.
1323 Walter was Abbot.
1324 Geoffrey was Abbot.
1327-1377 Between: Armed retainers were kept at the Abbey.
1330 The king’s long time servant, Benedict de Glannvyl, was sent ot the Abbey to see out his retirement there. Paid for by the King.
1339 The Abbey provided 10 Men-at-Arms and archers to defend the Isle of Wight.
1340 Early: The Abbot of Quarr Abbey was appointed Warden of the Island and Captain General.
1340 Licence to Crenellate granted against pirate attacks and the looming threat of an attack from France. Included a crenellated wall with towers, and a Seagate with a portcullis and gun ports.
1359 William was Abbot.
1360 Edward III appointed Abbot William as one of the Wardens of the Island.
1377 The French attacked the Isle of Wight but could not take a hold.
1380 The Abbot held the position of summoning men in the counties of Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex to defend the Isle of Wight should the French attack.
1381 John of Winchester was Abbot.
1397-1399 Thomas Suell was Abbot.
1399 Richard Bartholomew was Abbot.
1419 Robert was Abbot.
1438 Roger was Abbot.
1457-1462 John Cheselburgh was Abbot.
1461 The Abbot held the position of summoning men in the counties of Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex to defend the Isle of Wight should the French attack.
1466 John Norton was Abbot.
1477 Geoffrey of Newchurch was Abbot.
1481 John Fonsard was Abbot.
1493 Thomas of London was Abbot.
1507 Cecily of York, daughter of Edward IV, died and was buried at the Abbey.
1508 Richard Tottenham was Abbot.
1521-1536 William Ripon was Abbot.
1536 Dissolved as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Report stated ‘ A hedde house of Monkes of the ordre of Cisteaux beinge of large buyldinge scituate upon the ryvage of the sees by raporte greate refuge and comforte to all th’inhabitantes of the same yle and to strangers traveillinge the seid sees’.
1537 George Mills, a Southampton Merchant, bought the site and demolished the Abbey. The stone was taken away and used on various building projects at Cowes and Yarmouth, including Yarmouth Castle.
1537 The blockhouses at East and West Cowes were built with stone form the demolished Abbey.
1537 Thomas Wriothesley was granted most of the rights of the Abbey’s Manors.
1544 Sold to Sir Thomas Fleming, Lord Chief Justice.
1600 By: The church was no longer standing.
1789-1872 Between: Quarr Abbey House built for Sir Thomas Cochrane. He levelled as much of the site that he could.
1850 Quarr Abbey House renovated.
1865 Sir Thomas Cochrane was made Admiral of the Fleet.
1872 Sir Thomas Cochrane died at Quarr House.
1896 Percy Stone excavated the Abbey and established a rough plan of the site.
19th C Quarr Abbey Farmhouse rebuilt.
1901 Matilda, wife of Sir Thomas Cochrane, died at Quarr House.
1907-1914 Stable range added for the new Abbey.
1912 Reestablished and rebuilt.
1967 Field Investigation.
2012 The Abbey were awarded £2 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund for the preservation of the remains of the Abbey.
2014 Watching Brief.
References & Bibliography.
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