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NETLEY ABBEY

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  ABBEY OF ST MARY OF EDWARDSTOW
DESCRIPTION + /

The ruins of Netley Abbey, the Cistercian Abbey of St Mary's of Edwardstow. It was founded in 1238 by Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, who settled there from Beaulieu. The abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the site was granted to Sir William Paulet, afterwards Marquis of Winchester. He converted the abbey buildings into a Tudor courtyard house with private gardens. Although Hearth Tax returns of 1665 show it to be amongst the largest houses in Hampshire, it was sold in 1676 and probably some time after this it fell into disrepair. Parts of the building were demolished for building materials from the early 18th century and the remaining ruins were later preserved as a romantic ruin or folly during the Romantic Movement in the 1860s.

Substantial ruins remain of the 13th century abbey including the church, cloister to the south, sacristy, chapterhouse, parlour, dorter undercroft, warming house, frater, kitchen and abbots lodging. There are also earthwork aqueducts running from a possible water catchment to the north, which is known as The Moat, and may have been associated with the abbey. The post-Dissolution house was built on the south range and the original claustral area became the main courtyard with a fountain at the centre. The conversion was largely carried out in brick, although some stone was used. The nave of the church was turned into a hall and kitchen, and new elements were added, whilst some parts of the abbey were demolished. A private garden was laid out between the house and the former abbot's building. After the house was abandoned the overgrown nature of the remains made the site attractive to the Romantic Movement, and the abbey became a romantic ruin or folly. The site is now run by English Heritage and is open to the public.

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