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Originator:Gibbons, P.
Summary:Upstanding and buried remains of an abbey of the Cistercian Order in occupation from c1278 until 1539. The Abbey conforms to the traditional monastic plan in which a church and 3 ranges of buildings were grouped around the central open square court of the cloister, with ancillary buildings farther from the nucleus. The visible remains exist as a number of adapted structures, consisting of substantial parts of the Abbey Church incorporated into a later mansion, part of the cloister, a barn, a farm building (guesthouse), part of the Abbot's lodgings incorporated into a later structure, part of a precinct wall, and 2 main areas of earthworks. The buried remains are extensive and include the claustral ranges, graveyard, a gatehouse, buildings forming the home farm, and the water management system. Walls are constructed of random rubble shillet, with the moulded stone and most quoins in granite. In general the buildings were terraced into the higher ground to the SE. The Abbey Church is of late 13C - early 14C date, of cruciform plan, aligned ENE/WSW. The most substantial remains are those of the tower over the crossing which forms the focal point of the later mansion and survives to height of over 18m beneath a modified parapet. The tower retains the moulded piers and arches of the crossing incorporated into its walls. Those of the nave, chancel and N transept are visible within the mansion, and those of the S transept form a decorative feature in the external wall face. The chasing of the high pitched roof lines of the transepts are visible in the wall faces. The walls of the nave and presbytery exist almost to roof height with the remains of some window arches and windows incorporated into the later structure. The transepts were each of 2 bays, aisled on their E sides to contain 2 chapels. In the S chapel of the N transept the ribbed vaulted ceiling remains intact. The existing remains of the church are about 37.6m in length, with a width across the transepts of 28m. The nave and presbytery were 10.1m in width, and were apparently unaisled. The presbytery had 2 bays, and retains the remains of the E window, with the springing for the vaulted ceiling visible on the second floor of the mansion. The area of the high altar was excavated early in the 20C. The length of the existing nave is 17.9m, with 4 bays, although the dimensions of the cloister indicate that the original nave was longer by 2 or 3 bays. Founded in c1278 by Amicia, following her grant to the Cistercian Order of the adjoining Manors of Buckland, Bickleigh and Walkhampton, together with the E Devon Manor of Cullompton. The Abbey was colonised by monks from Quarr Abbey, and dedicated to St. Benedict. Buckland was the last rural Cistercian Foundations in England and owned a substantial tract of land in SW Devon. The Cistercian Order was in general inclined towards the pioneer cultivation of remote areas of waste or difficult land, and managed its lands through the creation of grange farms. The registers of the Bishops of Exeter attribute 5 granges to Buckland in addition to the home farm. The registers refer to the grant of a market and fair at Buckland and cullompton in 1318, and the impoverishment of the Abbey following the Black Death in 1349. They state that in 1337 Edward III granted the Abbey a licence to crenellate, and in 1522 refer to the existence of a W gate furnished with an upper room. At the dissolution there was an abbot and 12 monks in residence. Abbey was dissolved in 1539. The inventory includes (in addition to the church and claustral ranges), houses, buildings, barns, tenements, burial ground, pools etc. , within and near to the precinct. Following disposal by the crown, parts of the buildings, usually those of a more domestic nature, were converted to habitable use by the new owners. At Buckland, however, it was the Abbey Church itself that was converted into a substantial dwelling. Excavations were undertaken within the Abbey Church in the early 20C when the ground floor room within the presbytery was converted into a chapel. A tiled floor and the tiled plinth of the high altar were revealed. In 1983 the earthworks to the E + W of the site were surveyed. In 1986 an analysis of the standing structure of the church and mansion was undertaken. In 1993 recording and excavations were undertaken in connection with a series of trenches cut around the Abbey Church to improve drainage. The mansion and barn are each listed at Grade I, the guest house at Grade II*, the Cider House, Tower House and garden wall are each listed at Grade II. Six other structures of post medieval date are listed at Grade II.

Associated Monuments (10)

MDV5451Buckland Abbey (Monument)
MDV53039Cloister at Buckland Abbey (Monument)
MDV21352Earthworks east of Place Barton House, Buckland Abbey (Monument)
MDV21351Earthworks west of Buckland Abbey, Buckland Monachorum (Monument)
MDV56078Guest house at Buckland Abbey (Building)
MDV53038Medieval cemetery at Buckland Abbey (Monument)
MDV53041Pond at Buckland Abbey (Monument)
MDV53042Precinct wall at Buckland Abbey (Building)
MDV5453The Great Barn, Buckland Abbey (Building)
MDV44101Tower Cottage at Buckland Abbey (Building)