A brief history of Anglesey Abbey

Lord Fairhaven lived at Anglesey Abbey from 1926 until his death in 1966. During this time he created a comfortable country home which holds an eclectic collection of antiquities dating from the early Tudor period through to the 1960s. But his home has a long and fascinating history that stretches back almost 900 years.

It seems to have started out as a hospital in 1135 and by the early 13th Century had been converted into an Augustinian priory. In this remote spot, a small community of monks followed their quiet life of prayer and comptemplation until the priory was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536.
The ruined remains of the priory formed the core of the present house, which was built in the early 17th century. In the following three centuries, the estate went through many different hands. They seem to have done little to the fabric, with the exception of the Rev. John Hailstone, who demolished the surviving medieval outbuildings to make way for a new stable block in the mid-19th century.

Timeline

1135

In the reign of Henry I - a Hospital

In 1135, the last year of the reign of Henry I a hospital was founded on this site, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Anglesey. It was a place that offered hospitality. A pilgrim route ran from Walsingham to the shrine of Ethelreda in Ely. Pilgrim tokens have been found in the area.

1236

The Hospital becomes a Priory

1236 marked the arrival of the Augustinian Black Canons. They founded a Priory not an Abbey, as an order, they remained here for 300 years living a contemplative life, observing the religious cycles of the day

Anglesey Abbey - Priory Illustration

1537

Dissolution of the Monasteries

Following the dissolution of the Monasteries the Priory was granted to a lawyer, John Hynde, who removed some of the roofs and masonry to reuse in a new mansion he was building at Madingley Hall, leaving the Abbey to decay