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Cistercian Abbeys: BUCKLAND

Name: BUCKLAND Location: nr Plymouth County: Devon
Foundation: 1278 Mother house: Quarr
Relocation: None Founder: Amicia de Redvers
Dissolution: 1539 Prominent members:
Access: National Trust – open to the public

Buckland Abbey was founded by Amicia de Redvers, the dowager countess of Devon, in 1278. One significant purpose of her foundation was to provide a memorial church for her family members, particularly her husband, Baldwin de Redvers, who had died in 1245, and her son who had been murdered in 1262.(1) The abbey was colonised by monks from Quarr, on the Isle of Wight, which had been founded almost a century and a half earlier by the first Baldwin de Redvers, earl of Devon. The monks that settled in the new site were well provided for and suffered few of the hardships that many early Cistercian communities endured at the hands of a hostile and isolated living environment. The monks at Buckland settled in a manorialised landscape, and as such inherited all the feudal responsibilities that accompanied it.(2) The house achieved moderate wealth and was assessed in 1535 to have an annual income of £242. It thus escaped the first round of closures but was finally dissolved in 1539. Following the Dissolution the property was bought by Sir Richard Grenville to provide an estate for his son, Roger. However, Roger drowned three years later whilst in command of the ill-fated Mary Rose. It was thus for Richard’s grandson, who inherited the abbey, to finish building the home his grandfather had started. The house was then bought by Sir Francis Drake in 1580. The mansion was gradually modified over the years to suit the needs of the family and after a serious fire in 1938 the house underwent further restoration and refurbishment.(3) In the early 1940s Buckland was presented to the National Trust and the house is now open to the public during visiting hours.