Doug Wall

Doug Wall

Posted on 01/16/2016


Photo taken on March 17, 2007



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St Augustine Abbey


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The 7th-century Church of St Pancras, the easternmost of three Anglo-Saxon churches at St Augustine Abbey

The 7th-century Church of St Pancras, the easternmost of three Anglo-Saxon churches at St Augustine Abbey
To be honest, there is not much left of this abbey that surely must have been splendid before the Dissolution. The Anglo-Saxon monastery had four chapels and churches, most important of which are St Peter and St Paul’s, whose only visible signs are burial sites and St Gregory’s Porticus wall. But two Anglo-Saxon buildings are relatively well preserved: the chapel of St Pancras, saved from demolition by its more remote location, where St Augustine may have said his first Canterbury Mass; and the Rotunda, designed around 1050 to link St Mary’s chapel to the main church.

In the late sixth century, Pope Gregory I dispatched a small group of monks led by St Augustine to bring back Christianity to southern England. King Ethelbert of Kent was easily converted and donated land to set up a monastery which he would use as a burial place for the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent. Thus Saint Augustine’s Abbey was founded in 598, the abbey flourishing under Benedictine rule until the Dissolution when it was surrendered to the Crown and over 940 years of monastic presence ended.

On 30th July 1538 the King's Commissioners arrived to take the surrender of the Abbey and the last abbot and monks were compelled to leave the abbey. The abbey, with its site, its goods, buildings, lands and all other possessions, then became the property of the Crown.

The buildings were converted into a palace where Henry VIII would greet his new queen, Anne of Cleves. The royal residence was used occasionally by the royal family as late as the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, during which the buildings were leased to a succession of noblemen but eventually in the 17th Century, new owners, the Hale family, dismantled the buildings and carried off its used stones to build a new house at Hales Place.

From 1770 to 1844, a brewery operated within the abbey precincts and a farmhouse stood among the Saxon ruins. In 1804, a portion of the site was divided into lots and sold. The Great Court was used as a bowling green and skittle ground.

It was not until 1844 that a rich young landowner, MP, and generous churchman, Alexander James Beresford Hope, visited the ruins, found them deplorable, and bought them. Together with supporters he envisioned a dual purpose for the college: (a) to educate missionaries and (b) to excavate and preserve the abbey remains. St Augustine's Missionary College operated until the night of 31 May 1942, when its buildings were badly damaged by German bombing.

The ruins of the abbey are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the care of English Heritage.

Antony Cairns, Anne-Marie(Minus), William Sutherland have particularly liked this photo


Comments
William Sutherland
William Sutherland
Outstanding historical shot!

Admired in:
www.ipernity.com/group/tolerance
19 months ago.
Don Barrett (aka DBs travels)
Don Barrett (aka DBs…
7th century! It's difficult to believe that has maintained for close to 1400 years.
19 months ago.
Fogline
Fogline
amaaaaaaaaazing
19 months ago.
Clint
Clint
This is incredible.

I'm reminded of those ruins of the Ancient Pueblo people I photographed in New Mexico last year. Those dated to between 850 and 1150 ... so roughly contemporary to these structures or a little later. The designs are very different, of course--these have the look we'd recognize as the products of Western Civilization--but they all look the same now.
19 months ago.