Hi again everyone, we are back and feeling excited for the future of this blog and how we can potentially start travelling/exploring around the UK again, we were looking forward to some trips abroad, but they are going to have to be on a back burner for a short while. So in the meantime, our next exploration led us to the stunning Waverley Abbey, which is situated around one mile south of the town Farnham and lies beside the River Wey.
Let me give you some backstory into Waverley Abbey. The abbey was the very first cistercian abbey in England and was founded in 1128 by the bishop of Winchester, William Giffard. Giffard brought monks back from L’Aumône Abbey to settle at Waverley and William was also involved in the restoration at the beautiful Winchester Cathedral. The abbey began with just 12 monks, but by 1187 there were around 70 monks and 120 lay brothers in residence.
In 1201 the abbey was hit hit by floods, which happened often, and it caused the abbeys crops to fail, this in turn was time for the abbey to be rebuilt in the 13th century. Around 1203-04 construction was begun and financed by William, the Rector of Broadway however, due to the floods killing the crops, the monks were affected by famine and had to beg from other monastic houses for food.
Following on from the terrible century Waverley Abbey had dealt, they had another problem with King John in 1208, who got into a dispute with the pope and King John had all of Waverleys ecclesiastical properties confiscated even though he himself spent ‘the last days of Holy week’ at the Abbey. Many of the loyal monks fled from the abbey in fear of him, and he then issued a decree forbidding any cisterian to leave or enter the country.
Following the dissolution of the Monastery and former abbey in 1536, it was granted to Sir William Fitzherbert, who was the treasurer of the Kings household. The abbey was mostly demolished and then reused in other local building works, some of the stone was actually reused when building Waverley Abbey House.
Today what stands is the partial remains of the abbey church and a number of monastic buildings preserved beautifully and quite unnervingly natural. When you get to the site, you will be able to see the large ruins from afar and it really does show you just how big some of these buildings and ruins were/are. There are plenty of signs with information about the different buildings and how they would have been used which have been kindly placed by the English Heritage group. Out of all of the ruins around Waverley Abbey, the lay brothers range is truly quite a picture, it is out of all of the buildings, the least damaged, although the monks dormitory is preserved beautifully with the large monastic windows unharmed and beautiful.
The site itself is free to enter and there is a car park on the south side of B3001 on the drive towards Waverley Abbey House. But once you get to the car park and set off on foot, there is sign posts leading you through awesome tranquil views of the fields and along a riverside with the House and the ruins all in perfect view throughout your walk.
Honestly, it was a pleasure going to visit Waverley Abbey, there is so much history behind it, and it is so fascinating that we are able to wander across these today and unearth some history.
Until next time!