Flaxley Abbey

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Flaxley Abbey
The grounds of Flaxley Abbey - geograph.org.uk - 267981.jpg
The grounds of Flaxley Abbey
General information
Status Grade I listed
Type Stately home
Location Gloucestershire, UK
Construction started 1148
Design and construction
Architect Redesign Anthony Keck.[1]
Other designers Interior Design Oliver Messel.[2]
Flaxley Abbey, 1712 engraving by Johannes Kip.

Flaxley Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery in England, now a private residence, near the village of Flaxley in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. It is the former seat of the Crawley-Boevey Baronets.


Flaxley Abbey was founded in 1148 by Roger Fitzmiles, 2nd Earl of Hereford. It was dissolved during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536-37 and its lands and manor were granted to Sir William Kingston.

King Henry III gave a grant to Flaxley Abbey to the woods, called Abbot's Woods in 1227.

King Edward III, who paid frequent visits to Flaxley Abbey, granted to Flaxley Abbey income from the rents and profits of the lands of the forest Dean in 1353.[3]

Pope Celestine III and Pope Alexander III granted the monks of Flaxley Abbey special immunity from tithes.

It was purchased in 1642 by the London merchant, lawyer and philosopher James Boevey (1622–1696), with his half-brother William.[4] Later residents included Catherina Boevey, an inheritance from her short marriage to William Boevey, and the house passed to Thomas Crawley (later styled Crawley-Boevey) at her death in 1727.[5] The house was substantially rebuilt in the late eighteenth century to the designs of the architect Anthony Keck.[1]

During this time the family was created as the Crawley-Boevey Baronetcy (originally Barrow Baronetcy) on 22 January 1784. Flaxley Abbey remained as the family's seat until 1960.

Between 1962 and 1963 Flaxley Abbey's interior was restored by Tony Award winning theater and set designer Oliver Messel.[2]

Gardens and Landscape[edit]

After the death of William Boevey, his wife Catherina Boevey completed Dutch-style gardens on the grounds of Flaxley Abbey. It is said that Maynard I Colchester, a close friend of Catherina, was influenced by her own canal gardens for his Westbury Court Garden.[6] The layout of the gardens and improvements to Flaxley Abbey were continued by her after her husband's death. However, due to the modification of the land, the Dutch-style gardens at Flaxley Abbey were eventually removed.

Notable visitors[edit]

King John I Itinerary of King John.[7]

King Edward III [3]

Queen Mary of Teck, mother of King George VI and grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II in 1945.[8]

Notable residents[edit]

Matilda Blanche Crawley-Boevey,[9] wife of William Gibbs (businessman) and granddaughter of Thomas Hyde Page.

Arthur William Crawley-Boevey, graduate of Balliol in 1866, Married Ann Phayre, daughter of Colonel Robert Phayre, in 1883. Service in India from 1868 to 1893. Author of The Cartulary and Historical Notes of the Cistercian Abbey of Flaxley (1887).[3]

Edward B. Crawley-Boevey, brother of Arthur William, illustrated The cartulary and historical notes of the Cistercian abbey of Flaxley.

Octavius Charles Crawley-Boevey, brother of Arthur William, Director of the Peruvian branch of Antony Gibbs & Sons.

Sybella Mary Crawley-Boevey, sister of Arthur William, author of Dene Forest Sketches (1888), Beyond Cloudland (1888) and Conscience Makes the Martyr (1894).


  1. ^ a b http://www.parksandgardens.ac.uk/component/option,com_parksandgardens/task,site/id,1341/Itemid,/
  2. ^ a b "Oxford DNB article: Messel, Oliver Hilary Sambourne". oxforddnb.com. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c The cartulary and historical notes of the Cistercian abbey of Flaxley.
  4. ^ Porter, M. H. "Boevey, James". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/70859.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ 'Flaxley', A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 5: Bledisloe Hundred, St. Briavels Hundred, The Forest of Dean (1996), pp. 138-150. Date accessed: 16 October 2010.
  6. ^ "Westbury Court Garden (Gloucestershire)". OPEN GARDENS UK & Ireland. Gardens-Guide.com. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  7. ^ The Itinerary of King John & the Rotuli Litterarum Patentium
  8. ^ Nick Oldnall (2013-03-25). "History Quen Mary 1945". oldnall.co.uk. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  9. ^ "BBC - Your Paintings - Matilda Blanche Crawley-Boevey (1817–1888), Mrs William Gibbs". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°50′10″N 02°27′07″W / 51.83611°N 2.45194°W / 51.83611; -2.45194