Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Rise and Fall of Waverley Abbey

Waverley Abbey Waverley House Sir Walter Scott gaslighthouse.blogspot.com
Abbey ruins
I've been visiting Waverley Abbey in Surrey the past 10 years. I just love this hidden gem. Parking is free, entrance is free; bring a picnic or if you want to have some me-time, it's a great place to just read a book or meditate. Last year, we weren't allowed in; we visited not knowing they were making The Mummy film with Tom Cruise. The drive to the abbey was to the left and to our right, we saw a sign saying it was the Waverley House Open House that very day. The house is a Grade II listed Georgian mansion. We ended up going to the Open House and it was fun so every year we'll probably visit the abbey when it's also the Open House and spend the day there.

Waverley Abbey Waverley House Sir Walter Scott gaslighthouse.blogspot.com
View of the bridge from the house
Waverley is the inspiration for Sir Walter Scott's Waverley novel. I wanted to photograph a Walter Scott book in the abbey so I went looking for one in my shelf because I knew I had one but couldn't find any. Then I realised, I did read the Waverley novels but I was in my late teens, and I'd just borrowed them from the university library. It's a scary thought, to be sure that something happened only a few years ago when it truth it happened nearly two decades ago. I'm really getting old. My only excuse is I (used to) read a lot, and it's confusing to keep track of everything, when you have to take into account real life as well.

Waverley Abbey Waverley House Sir Walter Scott gaslighthouse.blogspot.com
View of the house from the bridge
I found more information over at ParadoxPlace, such as, the medieval bridge used to be the main entrance to the abbey. According to the website, "Waverley was the second daughter of the Abbey of  L'Aumone in Normandy.  Like many Cistercian abbeys it was founded 'far from the concourse of man' on a boggy but beautiful site on the River Wey at the initiative of William Gifford, the Bishop of Winchester. Both William and his successor Henry de Blois (brother of King Stephen) facilitated the transfer of large tracts of land to the new abbey and granted it many privileges."
Waverley Abbey Waverley House Sir Walter Scott gaslighthouse.blogspot.com
Top photo: Mike with Little M at six months
Bottom photo: Mike with Little H at two years

I know reading about a place hundreds of years old is more interesting if you can actually see the site. Such is the case about Waverley Abbey; in every visit I feel that there is something about it that makes me explore the place and reread about what it once had been.

The Rise and Fall of Waverley Abbey (text transcribed from the sign near the entrance)

"These ruins are all that remains of Britain's first Cistercian monastery.

Waverley Abbey Waverley House Sir Walter Scott gaslighthouse.blogspot.com
Me and M at what was once used to be a
Monks' Dormitory

Waverley Abbey was founded in 1128 by William Gifford, bishop of Winchester (1107-29). It was home to a Cistercian community for more than 400 years.

In its heyday, up to 70 monks and 120 lay brothers lived and worshipped here. The ruins you see today are part of a central group of buildings which stop within a much larger precinct of about 60 acres, enclosed by a stone wall.

The abbey was suppressed by King Henry VIII in 1536. The monks were dispersed and the site granted to Sir William FitzWilliam, later earl of Southampton (d. 1542). He built a house here, incorporating some of the monastic structures.

Several families held the property through to the early 18th century, when a new house was built to the north. The abbey ruins were then incorporated into picturesque parkland. The 18th-century house, which still stands behind you, was later extended and rebuilt."

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  1. I do love visiting properties like this one. We're members of both National Trust and English Heritage precisely for that reason :) Although admittedly we haven't been to any property in awhile. S is just too busy :( Love that photo of you and M, so cute :)

    1. Thank you :) We've considered becoming members, too, many times. But we thought we don't go to paid properties that much to make it worth the money. Btw, S rebolting the shelves reminded me of that time when one of our shelves got unbolted and collapsed. I heard it from the next room, at the same time every day that I would have been on my computer breastfeeding M who was only a few weeks that time. Maybe our guardian angel whispered to me not to go on my computer that morning. They were all big heavy hardbacks. You would have thought the shelf would just collapse sideways but when I checked there were lots of books in my chair. Pretty scary when I think about it.

      I said to Mike, jokingly, that what caused the shelf to collapse was the hardbound baby book that my biyenan gave to me and I put it in the shelf just a day or two before, because I didn't need it as I got the NHS one (obviously it was just coincidental but many times I could find lots of ways to blame things on her even if she had good intentions lol).


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