Evesham Abbey

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Evesham Abbey


Evesham Abbey Bell Tower.jpg
Evesham Abbey Bell Tower
Grid reference: SP037434
Location: 52°5’29"N, 1°56’48"W
Village: Evesham
Condition: Ruins

Evesham Abbey is a ruined abbey whose remains are found at Evesham in Worcestershire.

The abbey was founded by St Egwin between 700 and 710; according to legend this was after a local swineherd named Eof had a vision of the Virgin Mary, and it was named after Eof's Meadow (Eofes hamm).

Of the actual abbey, only one section of walling survives today, though fragments of the chapter house, the bell tower and the gateway remain, which were added later: the chapter house in the 13th century and the bell tower in the 16th century. Simon de Montfort (1208–1265) is buried near the high altar of the ruined abbey, the spot marked by an altar-like memorial monument dedicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1965.[1]

The abbey was of Benedictine origin, and became in its heyday one of the wealthiest in the country. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the abbey was demolished leaving only the bell tower surviving into the 21st century. Other buildings linked to history of the abbey that survive today are the Almonry and Middle Littleton Tithe Barn.


The year that the monastic community was first established here is problematic. William Tindal (1794) comments that "I have a MS. but without name or reference, which says that he [Ecgwine] began his Abbey in the year 682. This is before he was made bishop, and seems improbable. Tanner [Not. Mon. p.168] says in 701. The date of Constantine’s charter may decide the point as to the consecration of his Abbey, but there is reason to suppose that Egwin began to build as early as the year 702".[2] George May gives 701 as the year that Ethelred conferred on Ecgwine the whole peninsula [3] with the erection of the monastery commencing in the same year.[4]

On the other hand, the year of the consecration derives from the grant of the first privilege to the Abbey from Pope Constantine "written in the seven hundred and ninth year of our Lord’s incarnation."[5] Ecgwine allegedly returned from Rome bearing this charter, which was apparently read out by Archbishop Berhtwald at a council of “the whole of England” held at Alcester,[6] although that meeting was probably fictitious.[7] Thomas of Marlborough records that, in accordance with the apostolic command, a community of monks was then established[8] (meaning the foundation has also been dated to 709):

"When the blessed Ecgwine saw that longed-for day when the place which he had built would be consecrated, and a monastic order established to serve God in that place, he then abandoned all concerns for worldly matters, and devoted himself to a contemplative way of life. Following the example of the Lord by humbling himself, he resigned his bishop’s see, and became abbot of the monastery."[9]

The alleged charter of Ecgwine (purportedly written 714) records that on the feast of All Saints “Bishop Wilfrid and I consecrated the church which I had built to God, the Blessed Mary, and to all Christ’s elect”.

According to the monastic history, Evesham came through the Norman Conquest unusually well, because of a quick approach by Abbot Æthelwig to William the Conqueror.[10]


During the Dissolution of the Monasteries of the 16th century, on its surrender to the king in 1540, the abbey was plundered and demolished.[11] Only the bell tower survives. The coat of arms of Evesham Abbey is still used in modern times as the badge of Prince Henry's High School in Evesham.


The antiquary Edward Rudge began excavations of the abbey, on parts of his property, between 1811 and 1834. The results were given to the Society of Antiquaries of London, illustrations of the discoveries were published in their Vetusta Monumenta with by a memoir by his son, Edward John Rudge. Rudge commissioned an octagon tower for the site of the battlefield in 1842, to honour Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester.

Outside links

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  1. [1]
  2. William Tindal, The History and Antiquities of the Abbey and Borough of Evesham (Evesham: John Agg, 1794), p.2
  3. May, George of Evesham, England. (1845), A descriptive history of the town of Evesham, from the foundation of its Saxon monastery, with notices respecting the ancient deanery of its vale, Evesham, [Eng.]: G. May, OCLC 4784873, http://openlibrary.org/books/OL7173099M/A_descriptive_history_of_the_town_of_Evesham_from_the_foundation_of_its_Saxon_monastery_with_notices_respecting_the_ancient_deanery_of_its_vale , p.21
  4. George May (1845), p.24
  5. Sayers & Watkiss, Thomas of Marlborough: History of the Abbey of Evesham (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2003), section 323, page 319
  6. Thomas of Marlborough: History of the Abbey of Evesham , p.lxxxiv.
  7. Thomas of Marlborough: History of the Abbey of Evesham, footnote 2, page 20
  8. Thomas of Marlborough: History of the Abbey of Evesham, section 18, page 23.
  9. Thomas of Marlborough: History of the Abbey of Evesham, section 18, page 23
  10. Historia
  11. {{brithist|36469 Houses of Benedictine monks: Abbey of Evesham, A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 2 (1971), pp. 112-127]. Retrieved: 26 September 2010.


  • Thomas of Marlborough (c1190 - 1236) History of the Abbey of Evesham Ed. and trans. by Jane Sayers and Leslie Watkis, Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-820480-0, ISBN 0-19-820480-9
  • Cox, David, The Church and Vale of Evesham 700-1215: Lordship, Landscape and Prayer Boydell Press, 2015. ISBN 978-1-78327-077-4.
  • Evesham Abbey and the Parish Churches: A Guide
  • Victoria History of the County of Worcester
  • Walker, John A., Selection of curious articles from the Gentleman's magazine, vol. 1, 1811, Chap. LXXXV, Historical Account of the Abbey of Evesham, pp. 334–342. Accessed 31 July 2012