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ABBEY OF ST MARY GRACES

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St Mary Of Graces, or Eastminster, was the last Cistercian foundation in England before the Dissolution, and became one of the richest and most important of their houses. Founded in 1350, it was dissolved in 1538 and became a Royal Navy victualling yard in the 17th Century. Excavation ahead of development has revealed extensive details of the complex. The plan of the complex is unusual, the church itself more reminiscent of Dominican or Franciscan practice. Only the east end of the nave, and the choir was excavated. The nave was aisled and two chapels were constructed in the choir which resulted in a considerable narrowing of the central space. The claustral buildings were to the South, but the cloister itself was entirely detached from the church and east range. The East range contained chapels adjoining the church and the chapter house and infirmary to the South of that. The South range contained the, reredorter, washroom, frater kitchens and guest-house. The the North of these, and towards the West end of the range, was a reduced cloister. The overall plan and compacted surface suggests that the space between the cloister, and the church and East range, served as an open courtyard. The excavations also located a plague pit of 1349 with 762 inhumations.

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