he Cistercian monastery, Forde Abbey, was founded in 1136 by Richard de Brioniis at Brightley in Devon. The land was too barren for an agricultural community and this forced the monks to return to the mother house in Surrey in 1141. On their journey they met their former patron's sister and heir, Adelicia de Brioniis. Determined to honour the wish of her dead brother, she offered them the use of the Manor of Thorncombe and a site on the River Axe. They accepted the offer and within seven years the monastery of Forde Abbey was built. Forde Abbey flourished as a monastery for four hundred years and became renowned as a seat of learning. The third abbot, Abbot Baldwin, became Archbishop of Canterbury before dying on the crusades and his successor, John Devonius, was confessor to King John and reputably one of the most learned men of his time. It also became a wealthy foundation and by the 14th century owned some 30,000 acres. Each land transaction was recorded in the Cartulary which belongs to the Abbey to this day. Abbot Chard, the last abbot, succeeded in 1521 and applied his substantial learning and imagination to a comprehensive restructuring of the fabric of the building. However, his work was interrupted in 1539 by the dissolution of the larger monasteries. Chard decided that discretion was the better part of valour and handed Forde Abbey quietly over to the Crown, becoming vicar of Thorncombe until his death in 1543.

A great deal of the original living quarters of the monks still exists here at Forde Abbey and is incorporated into the house as it is today. Forde Abbey retains its refectories, monks' dormitory, Undercroft, novitiate school, chapter house, scriptorium, kitchen, tower, hall and the North section of the cloisters. What has gone, sadly, is the large Abbey church that stood where the South Lawn is now. This simple building was some 250 feet long and stretched from just west of Chard's Tower to just east of the present Chapel (chapter house). The lead roof of the Church contained a high percentage of silver making it the first item to be stripped and sold with the stone soon following. Now only the two statues in the Great Hall and the four pillars at the Mermaid Pond survive from the original Abbey Church.

YearMonthEvent
1136   Forde Abbey founded
 Initially the abbey was situated at Brightly in Devon, but the site proved too difficult and in 1141 moved. The founding monks came from Waverly Abbey in Surrey.[1] 
1171   Bindon Abbey founded
 A group of Cistercian monks from Forde Abbey colonised a new abbey at Bindon near Wareham on the south coast of England.[1] 

Trebuchet Game (Beta Version)

Take control of a medieval trebuchet to destroy the enemy castle and capture their flag.

 

 
 

View walkthroughs of the TimeRef Virtual Medieval Abbey reconstruction.