Returning to Denny Abbey, visited 2016, this time entering through the old farmhouse front door of the building, into what looks like a building site. Once you realise what you are looking at, and that for centuries it had been hidden under the guise of being a farmhouse, you start to see the skeleton of the Abbey. I have added a brief history again, as it has been a week or so since my last post on the Abbey.
A brief history……Having been occupied at various times by three different monastic orders. Founded in 1159 as a Benedictine monastery, in 1170 it was taken over by the Knights Templars and used as a home for aged and infirm members of the order. After the Templars’ suppression for alleged heresy in 1308, it became a convent of Franciscan nuns known as the Poor Clares. Following the dissolution of the nunnery in 1539 by Henry VIII, and was later transformed into a farmhouse.
We have the Countess of Pembroke to thank for what we are about to see, she was given Denny by King Edward III. The Countess brought the Poor Clares, Franciscan nuns, here around 1339. She made the original church into her own apartment, adding a floor, and then built a new church, a refectory (visited in a previous post) in 1330, a dormitory for 40 nuns, cloisters, and other buildings. The Countess died in 1377 and was buried in the Abbey. Life continued at the Abbey until the Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1539 and two years later Denny Abbey closed.
What we are looking at today is the old Templar Church, that the Countess turned into a house. It is this latter period that helps give Denny a great deal of its charm. The bones of the monastic building have been exposed by careful restoration work, and visitors can see how the site was transformed from a monastery into a functional farmhouse. There are some good information boards as you work your way through the building. I was just totally fascinated by all of it and just so thankful that so much had survived, but I will let the photos do the talking.
In the last post about the Abbey, we will be climbing some stairs.