As Buckfast Abbey prepares to celebrate its millennium in 2018, a new book has been published which chronicles the monastery’s remarkable history, art and architecture.
The first monastery was founded in 1018 and absorbed into the Cistercian Order in 1147, but was dissolved during the Reformation. The site gradually fell into disrepair, and in the early 19th century a Gothic-style mansion was built on the abbey ruins. A group of exiled French Benedictine monks settled at Buckfast in 1882 and eventually decided to rebuild the medieval abbey church themselves: the foundation stone was laid in 1907, and consecration took place in 1932.
The book has been written by 11 distinguished historians and explores, among other subjects, the history of the abbey from its Saxon origins to the Dissolution; the architecture of the medieval church, monastery and inner and outer courts; the abbey site without the monks, when it became a famed example of picturesque antiquity; the Benedictine revival; the rebuilding of the abbey under the architect Frederick Walters; the abbey’s exceptional assemblage of sacred silver and other metalwork; the art and architecture of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, completed in 1966; and the recent redevelopment of the precinct.
Illustrated throughout with plans, drawings and photographs gathered from the vast Buckfast archive, as well as new images of the Abbey Church, the beautiful tended grounds and the plethora of other buildings on site.
The launch of the book was celebrated with a special evening at Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, Abbot David Charlesworth, Bishop Mark O’Toole and the book’s Editor, Peter Beacham, as well as the authors and publisher, Hugh Merrell.
The evening included a talk from the Lord Lieutenant, who spoke of the importance of Buckfast Abbey to the history of Devon, and Peter Beacham, who provided an insight into the book’s journey, from his love for the monastery to the publishing of Buckfast Abbey: History, Art and Architecture.
The book can be purchased from the Buckfast Abbey bookshop.