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HAILES ABBEY

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The Cistercian abbey of Hailes was founded in 1245 by Richard, Earl of Cornwall in thanksgiving for deliverance from shipwreck. The abbey church was built by 1277. The ruined remains are divided between its inner precinct and outer court which are separated by a boundary that has not survived later landscaping. The abbey had extensive and elaborate buildings, financed by pilgrims visiting its renowned relic, 'the Holy Blood of Hailes' - allegedly a phial of Christ's own blood. Following its dissolution in 1539 by Henry VIII, the abbey was sold to a dealer in monastic properties, soon after which the church was demolished. In the 17th century much of the west range and the abbot's lodging became the home of the Tracy family. The Tracy's moved on in 1729 and the buildings were converted into two farms. The inner precinct contains the claustral buildings. Of these, the walls of the cloister survive mostly at foundation level, although at the south end of the west range three bays survive to full height. The remains of the abbey church are to the north of the cloister. These were revealed during excavations in the 20th century. A geophysical survey undertaken in 1978 also revealed the infirmary and another building beyond the east range. The outer court contains the site of a gatehouse chapel, believed to be in the vicinity of the parish church, four fishponds, the sites of two mills and earthworks representing internal boundaries and water management features, most of which are visible on aerial photographs. Of the ponds, three survive unaltered, while the fourth was landscaped in the 17th century. The mills survive as earthwork platforms. On the west side of the monument, in the grounds of Hailes House, is a barn thought to be contemporary with the abbey. A further abbey barn has been revealed by aerial photographs to the north of the parish church. The monument was donated to the National Trust, and is now in the Care of the Secretary of State.

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