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Cistercian Abbeys: KINGSWOOD

Name: KINGSWOOD Location: nr Wotton under Edge County: Gloucestershire
Foundation: 1139 Mother house: Tintern
Relocation: 1147, 1148, 1149/50 Founder: Roger de Berkeley
Dissolution: 1538 Prominent members:
Access: English Heritage – open to the public

In 1139 Roger de Berkeley offered the abbot at Tintern the site of Acholt in Kingswood, so that he could send out a colony from his overcrowded monastery. Following the foundation of the abbey at Kingswood, the monks led a very unsettled life. The civil war during the reign of King Stephen (1135-54) clearly disrupted their life and they sought a more peaceful site. The monks purchased some land from John de St. John at Hazleton and moved there some time between 1139 and 1147. In 1147 the lands at Hazleton were recovered by its previous owner, Reginald de St. Waleric, who drove out the monks. The community then returned to Kingswood. However, the monks were not content to forgo their lands at Hazleton and disputed Reginald's right to their possession . Their opposition was not in vain and Reginald finally yielded to their demands and restored Hazleton to the monks. Most of the community returned there in 1148 but some remained at Kingswood, which was later regarded as a grange. Those that returned back to Hazleton encountered problems obtaining a water supply. Accordingly, Richard de St. Waleric relocated the community to Tetbury, but only a few years later the monks returned to Kingswood, to occupy a fresh site. This final move occurred some time during 1149/50.(1) In due course, the monks at the new site in Kingswood became one of the most important wool-producing houses of the Cistercian Order in Britain.(2) In the 1535 assessment the annual net income of the house was valued at £232 and the abbey was dissolved with the larger monasteries in 1538.(3) A sixteenth-century gatehouse is all that remains of the site, which has long since been surrounded by the village of Kingswood. This building is now in the care of the English Heritage and is accessible to the public at all reasonable times.