Eynsham Abbey

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Eynsham Abbey
Monastery information
DioceseDiocese of Lincoln
Important associated figuresÆthelred the Unready, Ælfric, Adam of Eynsham, Anthony Kitchin
LocationEynsham, Oxfordshire, England
Coordinates51°46′43″N 1°22′26″W / 51.77861°N 1.37389°W / 51.77861; -1.37389Coordinates: 51°46′43″N 1°22′26″W / 51.77861°N 1.37389°W / 51.77861; -1.37389

Eynsham Abbey was a Benedictine monastery in Eynsham, Oxfordshire, in England between 1005 and 1538. King Æthelred allowed Æthelmær the Stout to found the abbey in 1005. There is some evidence that the abbey was built on the site of an earlier minster, probably founded in the 7th or 8th centuries.[1]


The first abbot of the abbey was the prolific writer Ælfric (c. 955–c. 1010).

Eynsham Abbey was in the Diocese of Dorchester. In 1072 the recently appointed Norman Bishop of Dorchester, Remigius, moved his see from Dorchester, a few miles down the Thames from Eynsham, to Lincoln, at the other end of the diocese. In 1091 Remigius annexed Eynsham Abbey, with its revenues, to his new abbey at Stow in Lincolnshire.[2] This may have been the opening move in an attempt to introduce monks into the Lincoln cathedral chapter, but Remigius' successor, Robert Bloet, did not follow through with the scheme, if this was the intention,[3] and the monks returned to Eynsham. A consequence of the return was that Eynsham Abbey was endowed by the bishop with additional lands in the south.[4]

The abbey flourished in the Middle Ages, although there were probably never more than 25 to 30 monks.[5] A well-known abbot was Adam of Eynsham, a writer, who wrote a hagiography of Saint Hugh of Lincoln.[6]

By the 16th century there seem to have been only a few monks left, and in 1538 the abbey was closed in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Anthony Kitchin was the last abbot. Some of the buildings were wrecked to hinder the return of the monks. The Earl of Derby acquired the abbey buildings, the stones of which were subsequently used to build houses in the village.



  1. ^ Blair 1994, p. 63.
  2. ^ Burton 1994, p. 230.
  3. ^ Knowles 1976, p. 132.
  4. ^ Gordon 1990, pp. 75 ff.
  5. ^ Gordon 1990, p. 148.
  6. ^ Smith & London 2001, p. 43.


  • Barclay, A; Boyle, A; Keevil, GD (2001). "A Prehistoric Enclosure at Eynsham Abbey, Oxfordshire" (PDF). Oxoniensia. Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society. LXVI. ISSN 0308-5562.
  • Blair, John (1994). Anglo Saxon Oxfordshire. Stroud: Alan Sutton. p. 63. ISBN 0-7509-0147-0.
  • Burton, Janet (1994). Monastic and Religious Orders in Britain: 1000–1300. Cambridge Medieval Textbooks. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 230. ISBN 0-521-37797-8.
  • Gordon, Eric (1990). Eynsham Abbey. Phillimore. ISBN 0-85033-747-X.
  • Gray, Margaret; Clayton, Nicholas (1978). "Excavations on the site of Eynsham Abbey, 1971" (PDF). Oxoniensia. Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society. XLIII. ISSN 0308-5562.
  • Hardy, Alan; Dodd, Anne; Keevil, GD (2002). Aelfric's Abbey: Excavations at Eynsham Abbey, Oxfordshire, 1989–92. Thames Valley Landscape Series. 16. Oxford: Oxford University School of Archaeology. ISBN 0-947816-91-7.
  • Knowles, David (1976). The Monastic Order in England: A History of its Development from the Times of St. Dunstan to the Fourth Lateran Council, 940–1216 (Second reprint ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 132. ISBN 0-521-05479-6.
  • Page, William, ed. (1907). "The abbey of Eynsham". A History of the County of Oxford. Victoria County History. 2: Ecclesiastical History, Religious Houses, Social and Economic History, Industries, Agriculture, Forestry, Ancient Earthworks, Sport. Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co. pp. 65–67.
  • Smith, David M; London, Vera CM (2001). The Heads of Religious Houses, England and Wales. II. 1216–1377. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 43. ISBN 0-521-80271-7.

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