Revesby Abbey was a Cistercian monastery located near the village of
Revesby in Lincolnshire, England.
The abbey was founded in 1143 by
William de Roumare,
Earl of Lincoln
. The first monks came to the abbey from the
great Yorkshire house of Rievaulx Abbey.
They were led by Aelred of Rievaulx
, a former courtier who
was to go on to become abbot of Rievaulx itself and a noted
historian and theologian. He eventually became a saint.
When the monks arrived there was a pre-existing village on the
site. The population was moved and the village was demolished save
for the church of St. Laurence
the monks initially retained for their own use.Over the latter part
of the twelfth century a stone monastery was constructed on the
site. There was a large cruciform
with a nave
of seven bays, an aisled presbytery
and numerous chapels.
South of this stood the domestic buildings, arranged around two
. This core was surrounded by
gardens, fishponds, orchards, barns, guesthouses, stables, a
farmyard and industrial buildings. A wall protected the monastic
grounds and entry was controlled by gatehouses.
Very little is known of the internal history of the abbey, which
seems to have been uneventful. Revesby had been given a fairly
substantial endowment and hence had a comfortable income. In the
thirteenth century the house was fairly prosperous, however, in the
fourteenth century the monks were hit hard by government exactions,
unpaid debts from the king, animal plagues that killed all the
stock and barreness of the abbey lands. In 1382 the abbey received
an additional grant of property which may have gone some way
towards allievating the situation, but it is likely that the
decline (not helped by mismanagement) continued though the
fifteenth century. It was noted before the Dissolution
that the abbey
buildings were already falling to ruin.
Despite this, in 1535 the abbey was valued in the Valor Ecclesiasticus
as having an
income of £287 (placing it among the middle ranks of its order)
which meant that it escaped being dissolved under the terms of the
First Suppression Act
King Henry VIII's
in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The respite was to be brief.
No records survive as to exactly how or when Revesby Abbey fell,
but it is likely that Abbot John and his monks were compelled to
give their house to the king in 1538. It is likely that the abbot
and monks were given pensions, though again no records survive. The
abbey site was granted to Charles Brandon, 1st Duke
and immediately fell to ruin.
The Abbey Today
Very little of the abbey is visible today, though archaeologists
have investigated some parts of the site. Earthworks show where the
abbey buildings lie buried and the site also has fishponds and
moated enclosures that may be gardens. The remains are on farmland
and are not open to the public.
The first abbot, St. Ailred, is the patron
of integrity. He has also been adopted by some gay
and lesbian Christians
- The Cistercian Abbeys of Britain, ed David Robinson,
- A History of the County of Lincolnshire: Volume II,
The Victoria County History 1906