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AMESBURY ABBEY

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Benedictine Abbey founded in 979, refounded by Henry II in 1177 as a Priory of Monks and Nuns of the Fontevrault order. Dissolved in1539. All buildings have been demolished. There is debate as to whether the present parish church was the priory church. This is very unlikely since it is 300 yards from the known site of the monastery. But, two possibilities should be considered. It may have served as the church of the monks with the main priory church serving the nuns, or it may be on the site of the Saxon monastery, and was the last stone version of the earliest priory church. However, the important fact that the Fontevraultine nuns were able to occupy their nunnery immediately indicates that the nunnery changed order, not location. There is further evidence to suggest that Amesbury was also a minster, and it may have been this which the parish church replaced. The minster may have preceded and/or existed at the same time as the Benedictine nunnery since Amesbury was a royal estate from at least Alfred's reign. Lidar survey has revealed numerous slight earthworks in the grounds of the present house which may be remnants of the earlier site of the monastery.

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