Evesham Abbey

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Evesham Abbey bell tower

Evesham Abbey was founded by Saint Egwin at Evesham in England between 700 and 710 A.D. following an alleged vision of the Virgin Mary by a swineherd by the name of Eof.[1]

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.[2] Only one section of walling survives from the actual abbey, although 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 beneath the high altar of the ruined abbey, the spot marked by an altar-like memorial monument dedicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1965.[3] The abbey is 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.

Early foundation[edit]

The year of the foundation of Evesham Abbey (that is, when a monastic community was first established) 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".[4] George May gives 701 as the year that Ethelred conferred on Ecgwine the whole peninsula [5] with the erection of the monastery commencing in the same year.[6]

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."[7] Ecgwine 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,[8] although that meeting was probably fictitious.[9] Thomas of Marlborough records that, in accordance with the apostolic command, a community of monks was then established[10] (meaning the foundation can also be 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."[11]

The charter of Ecgwine (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”.[12] The feast of All Saints became established in the West after 609 or 610 under Pope Boniface IV; its observance on 1 November dates from the time of Pope Gregory III (died 741).[13] Bishop Wilfrid was Egwin’s successor to the see of Worcester (though he is sometimes confused with Wilfrid, Archbishop of York, who died c. 709).

Although the exact year of the foundation remains unclear, it can be reasonably assumed that the date of the abbey's consecration was the feast of All Saints in 709. That the consecration occurred on this feast day provides a neat connection with All Saints Church. That Abbot Clement Lichfield lies buried beneath the Chantry Chapel, now known as the Lichfield Chapel in consequence, provides the link to the closing days of the life of the abbey.

Dissolution[edit]

During the Dissolution of the Monasteries of the 16th century, on its surrender to the king in 1540, the abbey was plundered and demolished by the townsfolk.[14] Only the bell tower survives. The coat of arms of Evesham Abbey is still used in modern times as the crest of Prince Henry's High School, Evesham.

Excavations[edit]

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.[15]

Burials of saints[edit]

Other burials[edit]

GWR Star Class steam engine[edit]

One of the Great Western Railway Star class locomotives was named Evesham Abbey and numbered 4065. It was subsequently rebuilt as a Castle class locomotive being renumbered as 5085 while retaining the name Evesham Abbey.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Evesham Abbey". Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-02-18. 
  2. ^ Historia
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ William Tindal, The History and Antiquities of the Abbey and Borough of Evesham (Evesham: John Agg, 1794), p.2 third footnote. The year 702 is also given in Saint Egwin and his Abbey of Evesham by the Benedictines of Stanbrook (London: Burns & Oates, 1904), p.15. Tindal (1756-1804), a Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford and chaplain of the Tower of London, was the grandson of the historian Rev Nicolas Tindal. (Dictionary of National Biography)
  5. ^ 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 , p.21
  6. ^ George May (1845), p.24
  7. ^ Sayers & Watkiss, Thomas of Marlborough: History of the Abbey of Evesham (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2003), section 323, page 319
  8. ^ Thomas of Marlborough: History of the Abbey of Evesham , p.lxxxiv.
  9. ^ Thomas of Marlborough: History of the Abbey of Evesham, footnote 2, page 20
  10. ^ Thomas of Marlborough: History of the Abbey of Evesham, section 18, page 23.
  11. ^ Thomas of Marlborough: History of the Abbey of Evesham, section 18, page 23
  12. ^ Thomas of Marlborough: History of the Abbey of Evesham, section 32, page 39
  13. ^ Thomas of Marlborough: History of the Abbey of Evesham, footnote 2 to page 38
  14. ^ Houses of Benedictine monks: Abbey of Evesham, A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 2 (1971), pp. 112-127. Retrieved: 26 September 2010.
  15. ^  Woodward, Bernard Barham (1897). "Rudge, Edward". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 49. London: Smith, Elder & Co. "sources: [Burke's Landed Gentry; Proc. Linn. Soc. i. 315, 337; Gent. Mag. 1846 ii. 652, and 1817 i. 181; Britten and Boulger's English Botanists; Royal Soc. Cat.; Brit. Mus. Cat.]" 
  16. ^ On Saint Credan see Evesham Abbey and the Parish Churches: A Guide, p.8, and The Victoria History of the County of Worcester, p.387
  17. ^ Saint Credan at Catholic.org
  18. ^ On St. Wigstan see ‘The Medieval Hagiography of Saint Ecgwine’, p.79 & p.83. This notes that Abbot Ælfweard occupied himself with increasing Evesham’s prestige, and instigated the translation of Saint Wigstan to Evesham, and Evesham Abbey and the Parish Churches: A Guide, p.8. E.J. Rudge, p.13 notes that Ælfweard entreated King Canute to present the abbey church with the relics of Wystan. George May (1834), p.47 refers to St Wulstan. Also see The Victoria History of the County of Worcester, p.387 and ‘The Mitred Abbey of St. Mary, Evesham’, p.12.
  19. ^ On St. Odulf see ‘The Medieval Hagiography of Saint Ecgwine’, p.79 & p.83. This notes that Abbot Ælfweard occupied himself with increasing Evesham’s prestige, and purchased the relics of Saint Odulf.
  20. ^ Evesham Abbey and the Parish Churches: A Guide, p.8; The Victoria History of the County of Worcester, p.387
  21. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford University Press.
  22. ^ a b Emma Hornby, David Nicholas Maw, Essays on the History of English Music in Honour of John Caldwell (Boydell & Brewer, 2010) pager 19.
  23. ^ Stowe MS 944, British Library
  24. ^ On St. Odulf see ‘The Medieval Hagiographies of Saint Ecgwine’, p.79 & p.83. This notes that Abbot Ælfweard occupied himself with increasing Evesham’s prestige, and purchased the relics of Saint Odulf and see also the hagiography of St Odulf
  25. ^ In the Ave presul gloriose I Augustine he is linked with Oda of Canterbury
  26. ^ Mullins, E. L. C. (1958). Texts and Calendars I: An Analytical Guide to Serial Publications. Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks No. 7. London: Royal Historical Society.
  27. ^ On the burial of Simon de Montfort see George May, The History of Evesham (1834), p.65; E.J. Rudge, A Short History of Evesham, p.141; William Tindal, History and Antiquities of Evesham, p.137; Evesham Abbey and the Parish Churches: A Guide, p.8.
  28. ^ see George May (1834), p.65; E.J. Rudge, p.141; Tindal, p.137; Douglas Greenwood, p.81
  29. ^ George May (1834), p.65; Tindal, p.137; E.J. Rudge, p.141.

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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
  • 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.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°05′29″N 1°56′48″W / 52.0913°N 1.9468°W / 52.0913; -1.9468