Exploring Denny Abbey, Cambridgeshire – Ground Floor

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.  


7 comments

  1. Wonderful post~ I probably mentioned before, that this has been a place on my years old list to see one day~ love the photos as well~ am always able to see so much detail on your explorations of such places ,so that I am able to live a little vicariously via your text and the photos ~ thank you for this. Do you know if there are any plans at all to do any restoration at all~? it looks pretty dodgy in some places,so fear it will crumble before much longer if at least not shored up a bit to keep stabilized.

    1. Thank you Val, nice to know you are still there 🙂 Yes it was on my list and last year we stopped, you would love it, it gives you quite a tingle. The dodgy parts are ok, they have carried out a lot of work on it. I’m am doing upstairs next, so keep a look out 🙂

  2. What a fascinating place! The various stone and brickwork. Windows from different times. The big cooking area in blue! And I love the fern growing inside the window, sans pot. I would love this place. Thanks, Lynne. 🙂

    1. Thank you Pat, and I think you would, just the ancientness of the place gives you a tingle. Its very hard to really show how old it is in just photos, but hopefully a lot of it shows through 🙂 I loved the fern too 🙂

  3. This is great that you can walk inside the building! Those old cast iron kettles are treasures,wonder how much one of those would weight with a stew in it? I have a small kettle similar to these and it it heavy enough when full. I’m enjoying the tour. the ferns are beautiful

    1. Thank you Deb, and I should think they weigh a ton, but they would keep the heat in, once, what ever it was they cooked. Glad you are enjoying the tour, one more to go 🙂

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