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Cistercian Abbeys: BIDDLESDON

Name: BIDDLESDON Location: nr Brackley County: Buckinghamshire
Foundation: 1147 Mother house: Garendon
Relocation: None Founder: Arnold de Bois
Dissolution: September 1538 Prominent members:
Access: Private house – Biddlesdon Park

The abbey of Biddlesdon was founded in 1147 by Arnold de Bois (or de Bosco), Steward of Robert de Beaumont, earl of Leicester, and one of the keepers of the royal forest.(1) The first monks were probably sent from the abbey of Garendon which was the earl of Leicester’s own foundation.(2) The original endowment was confirmed by Robert, earl of Leicester, by King Stephen and Henry II, by Theobold of Canterbury and Robert of Lincoln.(3) It was a small monastery, inhabited only by eleven monks in 1535.(4) At the time of the Dissolution the net annual income of the abbey was valued at £125 and thus should have fallen with the smaller monasteries in 1536. In fact the house was not surrendered until September 1538; dissolution may well have been delayed by the payment of a fine on the part of the abbey.(5) Following the Dissolution the abbey was bought by Sir Robert Peckham. He constructed a house which incorporated parts of the monastic buildings and began demolition of the church.(6) Around 1731 the house was fully demolished by its owner, Henry Sayer, to make way for the construction of a new house: Biddlesdon Park.(7) Today there are no visible remains of the abbey and the site is still occupied by the eighteenth-century country house; the property is privately owned and not accessible to the public.