Waverly Abbey was the first Cistercian abbey in England founded in 1128. Unfortunately, being built on a flood plain, it was flooded more than once, leaving the inhabitants at the mercy of poverty and famine.
The ruins are sparse but give the impression of how impressive the abbey would have looked in its day. There’s a certain peaceful atmosphere to the place now, tucked away on a field overlooked over by cows, with Waverley Abbey House opposite, which was probably partly built with stone from the abbey ruins.
Like most abbeys in England it fell foul of Henry VIII and was dissolved in 1536, left to become building material for the local area. The house was built in 1725 and itself became a military hospital during the First World War.
During the Second World War, the grounds became part of the GHQ line, formed to protect London if the Germans invaded. The remnants of this period of history can still be found alongside the abbey ruins, including these “anti-tank pimples” by the river.
It’s also been a film location for a number of productions including Hot Fuzz, The Mummy (the crappy Tom Cruise version), Elizabeth: The Golden Age, 28 Days Later and Into The Woods.
If you’re in the area, it’s a nice place to spend a bit of time. I could well imagine a supernatural tale or two being set here, or maybe something set during the war, or even showing the history of the Monks who lived there.
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