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LILLESHALL ABBEY

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  ABBEY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
DESCRIPTION + /

The ruined, earthwork and buried remains of Lilleshall Abbey. The religious order was originally founded in 1143 moved to Lilleshall in 1148. Lilleshall Abbey was founded by Richard de Belmeis for canons of the Augustinian Order of Aras. The church was built in the 12th and 13th centuries, and its size and magnificence indicates it had wealthy and influential benefactors; Henry III visited twice in circa 1240. The abbey's income came from a variety of sources: gifts, legacies, farmland, watermills, property investments, and tolls over the Atcham Bridge on the River Severn.

The east and south ranges of the claustral buildings containing the sacristy and chapter house, the refectory, kitchen and warming room, and were built in the 12th century. The west range containing the abbot's hall and chamber and the outer parlour was built in the 14th century. A financial crisis in the early 14th century led to a reduction in the number of canons, and when the abbey was dissolved in 1538 by Henry VIII there were only nine canons and 43 servants. The abbey was later converted into a house by Sir Richard Leveson. This was fortified during the Civil War by a Royalist garrison, and besieged by Parliamentary forces in 1645 who caused much damage to the church. The abbey was then left to ruin, and in the late 18th century a canal was cut through the precinct.

The remains of the abbey include the ruined crossing, transepts, chapels either side of the chancel, west tower, nave and presbytery of the church and a fine example of a Transitional Norman doorway. The claustral buildings were arranged to the south and include the ruins of the vestry, cloisters, chapter house and frater. There are also traces of the precinct wall to the south, and to the north-west of the precinct are two areas containing earthworks of two fishponds. The abbey is now in the care of English Heritage.

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