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Cistercian Abbeys: LONDON ST. MARY GRACES

Name: LONDON ST. MARY GRACES Location: London County: Greater London
Foundation: 1350 Mother house: Beaulieu
Relocation: None Founder: King Edward III
Dissolution: 1538/9 Prominent members:
Access: No standing remains

St. Mary Graces was the last Cistercian foundation in Britain and was the only house of the Order that was established on an urban site. It was founded by King Edward III (1327-77) on a plot of land just outside of the Tower of London. The foundation was a minor one and intended to serve what was essentially a new royal free chapel.(1) The community was originally small, with an abbot and six monks.
By the early sixteenth century the monastery had become the third richest Cistercian Abbey in Britain. In the assessment of 1535 the net annual income of the house was valued at £547 and the abbey was suppressed with the larger monasteries in 1538-9.(2) The church was demolished five years later and the claustral buildings were converted into a house.
Afterwards the property was used successively as a royal naval supply base, as a storage site and then cleared to make way for the royal mint. Today the site is situated between the Tower, Royal Mint Street, and East Smithfield, and although the site has been excavated there are no prominent standing remains.(3)
A mosaic mural showing Edward III handing over the charter to the abbey can be seen in English Martyrs Catholic Church, in nearby Prescot Street.