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WEST DEREHAM ABBEY

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Premonstratensian Abbey founded in 1188 and dissolved in 1539. The first substantial abbey buildings were probably early 13th century, with possible additions after expansion of the estate to 8 acres in 1285, and further additions in the mid 14th and early 15th century. At the Dissolution the property passed to the Dereham family and Sir Thomas Dereham built Dereham Abbey house shortly after 1689, incorporating some of the old monastic buildings. Today only ruins comprising a wing, gate piers and bridge, and a barn, survive from the 17th century complex. The house appears to have been almost completely demolished by the mid 19th century, although its character and general layout are recorded in 18th century drawings. Surviving earthworks and an 18th century map show that the house lay within a large ditched enclosure, while to the south of the house were canals and avenues. Extensive cropmarks of the abbey and later house were revealed on air photographs taken in 1976 and 1977, including the great barn, the gate house, the monastic church, the chapter house. A programme of recording work at the site commenced in 1991.

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