29 April 2011

Haughmond Abbey, Shropshire

Like its cousin at Thornton, Haughmond, founded in the late eleventh century and granted abbey status in 1155, was governed by the Augustinian rule. The remains here are far more extensive, and include the abbot's luxurious quarters, a large part of the refectory and dorter, and a good portion of the cloisters, all built in white sandstone rubble, with ashlar dressings.

Most impressive is the chapterhouse, rectangular at its front and 'half-octagonal' at its rear. The frontage features a dozen statues of the twelfth to fourteenth centuries. Inside is a splendid oak roof, over five hundred years old, an amazing survival.

The abbey church (above) was heavily stepped up the rising ground of the site. Surprisingly, given the scale of the place, just 24 canons lived at the abbey at the end of the twelfth century. When dissolved in 1539 just the abbot and ten canons were there to sign the deed of surrender and be granted pensions.

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