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The abbey of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Nicholas was founded in 1180 by Robert Mantell for Premonstratensian canons who moved here from Great Parndon. It was first called Maldon, the name Beeleigh and its various forms not occuring till the 12th century. The original colony appears to have been of the usual 13 canons, later increased to 15. Its affiliation was transferred to Durford in the 14th century, and it was dissolved in 1536. The remains are incorporated in the later house, and consist of parts of he East and South ranges flanking the cloister, and include the Chapter House and dorter sub-vault with the dorter above them in the East range and the passage and room over at the North end of the South or Frater range. These are of early to mid 13th-century date, with some later windows inserted, and the upper part of the dorter was remodelled earl in the 16th century. Probably shortly after the dissolution in 1536 the timber-framed addition was made at the South end, incorporating part of a ruined building, probably the rere-dorter. The 2-storeyed house was altered and extended in the 16th and 17th centuries. The church North of the cloister, frater, cellarer's building, etc., were probably destroyed at the same period. There is a modern addition in the South-East angle of the former cloister, and the rooms above the chapter house are mainly modern.

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