The abbey of Meaux was founded in 1150 by William
le Gros, count of Aumale, in lieu of going on pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
According to the foundation story, Williams age and expanding
waistline had prevented him from fulfilling this vow, but a chance
encounter with Adam, a monk of Fountains,
caused him to redirect his pious energies.
Adam, who was at that
time helping to establish communities at Kirkstead, Woburn and Vaudey,
offered to seek dispensation for the count to release him from
promise if he founded a religious community. This set the wheels
in motion for the foundation of Meaux, which was colonised by
from Fountains, and led by Adam who presided as abbot until 1160.
Adam was, it seems, actively involved in the building of the abbey,
and has been described as a monk-mason.(1)
The site, in the flood plain of the R. Hull, was near water, woodland
and pasture, and unlike most Cistercian houses, established on
ground. The marshy land was prone to flooding and the community
suffered dampness. They were forced to disband and disperse for
a brief spell in 1160, returning later that year to reorganise
site and erect new buildings. The monks were never entirely free
from problems, and continually struggled with debts, lawsuits,
and internal rebellion.
Meaux was suppressed in 1539, and the buildings destroyed in 1542;
the stone was removed for Henry VIIIs use at Hull, where
he was erecting new fortifications.
The fourteenth-century chronicle of the house by Abbot Thomas Burton
(1396-9) survives; it spans some 250 years and is a valuable source
of the abbeys fluctuating fortunes. Whilst none of the buildings
remain, aerial photography of the site shows the outline of the