Blog – Ramsey Abbey: Booth’s Hill; Ramsey the Rich; Ramsey the Golden.




    • Ramsey, Cambridgeshire.
    • OSGB – TL 2918 8503
    • Scheduled Ancient Monument
    • Monument Number 871276
    • Gatehouse Grade I Listed Building.


Sitting on what was once an island in the Fens, and surrounded by marshy land, this amazing Abbey has had a very turbulent history.

Ramsey Abbey was founded as a Benedictine Monastery, and it held 42 manors in seven counties, demonstrating how lucrative it was at its height, earning the nick name Ramsey the Rich. It was a major centre of learning in England and had a really good reputation. Its library was vast and included many Hebrew books.

Ramsey was one of the Abbeys suppressed during the Dissolution. Owing to its rich holdings, it was granted to Richard Cromwell, and stayed in the Cromwell family for a while, including being used by Oliver Cromwell, during the English Civil War.

The mound to the south may be a Medieval earthwork built by Geoffrey de Mandeville when he ran ravage across the fens and took the abbey, killing the monks. Known to history now as the Scourge of the Fens, you can read more about him tomorrow.

All that remains is the fifteenth century Gothic gatehouse which was once used as a prison.


969                      Founded. Site given by Ailwine to St. Oswald, Bishop of Worcester.

991                      Visited by Bishop Oswald.

993-1008           Aednoth was Abbot of Ramsey. Killed at the Battle of Essenden.

1008-1016          Wulsi was Abbot of Ramsey.

1016-1020          Wythman was Abbot of Ramsey.

1020-1043          Ethelston was Abbot of Ramsey. Killed by an Irish servant.

1043-1080          Alfwin was Abbot of Ramsey.

1080-1087          Alsi was Abbot of Ramsey, previously of St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury.

1087-1091          Herbert de Losinga was Abbot of Ramsey.

1091-1102          Aldwin was Abbot of Ramsey – the last English Abbot.

1102-1107          Bernard of St. Albans was Abbot of Ramsey.

1107-1111          Aldwin was Abbot of Ramsey.

1114-1133          Reginald was Abbot of Ramsey.

1133-1161          Walter was Abbot of Ramsey.

1143                    Seized by Geoffrey de Mandeville who evicted the monks and fortified it.

1154                    Repairs completed. They were need after damage caused by Geoffrey de Mandeville. Great Tower built.

1161-1178          William was Abbot of Ramsey.

1163                    Archbishop Thomas Becket obtained compensation for damage afflicted on the Abbey by Geoffrey de Mandeville, from his son.

1180                   Church of St. Thomas à Beckett was built.

1180-1200          Robert Trionell was Abbot of Ramsey.

1192                     New shrines to St. Felix, first Bishop of East Anglia and the two Saxon princes, St. Ethelred and St. Ethelbreth.

1200-1202          Eudo was Abbot of Ramsey.

1202-1214          Robert de Reading was Abbot of Ramsey.

1214-1216          Richard de Selby was Abbot of Ramsey.

1216-1231          Hugh Foliat was Abbot of Ramsey.

1231-1253          Ranulf was Abbot of Ramsey.

1253-1254          William de Akolt was Abbot of Ramsey.

1254-1267          Hugh de Sulgrave was Abbot of Ramsey.

1267-1285          William de Godmanchester (Gurmecestre) was Abbot of Ramsey.

1276                    New refectory completed by Abbot Hugh de Sulgrave.

1277                    Abbot Hugh de Sulgrave made a new water channel to the Abbey and built the Hall and South Gate.

1285-1316          John de Sawtry was Abbot of Ramsey.

13th C                 Gatehouse.

13th C                 Mid: Lady Chapel built or rebuilt.

1316-1342          Simon de Eye was Abbot of Ramsey.

1330                    Queen and princess Eleanor stayed for 2 days.

1330-1342          New Presbytery built by Abbot Simon de Eyre.

1334                    Edward III, his Queen and their household stayed for 14 days.

1342-1349          Robert de Nassington was Abbot of Ramsey.

1349-1379          Richard de Shenington was Abbot of Ramsey.

1379-1396          Edmund de Ellington was Abbot of Ramsey.

1381                    Attacked by peasants.

1396                    Land put aside for the rebuilding of the Lady Chapel.

1396-1418          Thomas Butterwick was Abbot of Ramsey.

14th C                 Special wardens maintained the Lady Chapel.

1419-1434          John Tychmerch was Abbot of Ramsey.

1434-1435          John Crowland was Abbot of Ramsey.

1435-1468          John Stow was Abbot of Ramsey.

1468-1473          William Whittlesey was Abbot of Ramsey.

1473-1489          John Warboys was Abbot of Ramsey.

1489-1506          John Huntingdon was Abbot of Ramsey.

15th C                  Gatehouse rebuilt.

1506-1507          Henry Stukeley was Abbot of Ramsey.

1507-1539          John Lawrence (alias Warboys) was Abbot of Ramsey.

1535                    Visited by Thomas Bedyll, one of Henry VIII’s commissioners.

1536                    Visited by Thomas Bedyll, one of Henry VIII’s commissioners.

1539                    Dissolved – Sir Richard Williams sold parts of it off for building materials.

1540                   Granted to Sir Richard Cromwell.

16th C                 Gonville and Caius College, Kings College, and Trinity College were mostly built out of materials from the Abbey.

1600 c:                Gatehouse converted into a house.

1627                     Sir Oliver Cromwell lived in the remainder of the house.

1804-1806          Gatehouse altered.

1839                    Gatehouse altered and enlarged.

1970                   Field Investigation.

1998                   Geophysical Survey by Cambridgeshire County Council Archaeological Field Unit.

2005-2006          Excavated by Cambridgeshire County Council Archaeological Field Unit.

2009                    Explored through a series of test pits.

2012                    Geophysical Survey.

2018                     Excavated.


Ramsey Abbey — carved gatehouse with ornate oriel window — XVth century.
By Thorvaldsson – Own work, CC BY 3.0,



Recommended Reading



References & Bibliography

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Demarest. E. B. 1927.  ‘Consuetudo Regis’ in Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk. The English Historical Review, Vol. 42, No. 166 (Apr., 1927), pp. 161-179.

DeWindt. A. R., & DeWindt. E. B. 2006. Ramsey: The Lives of an English Fenland Town, 1200–1600. The Catholic University of America Press.

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Neilson. N. 1899. Economic Conditions on The Manors of Ramsey Abbey. Sherman & Co.

Nicholas. K., & Smith. D. M. 2006. English episcopal acta: Ely 1109-1197, Volume 31 of English Episcopal Acta, Ed Karn, N.. Oxford University Press.

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