Thursday, February 20, 2014

Buckland Abbey

A panorama of Buckland Abbey

A visit to Buckland Abbey was high on our list of  "Places to See in Devon", since Bill admires the exploits of Sir Francis Drake.  It was originally built in 1273, as a Cistercian Abbey by Amicia, the Dowager Countess of Devon after the death of her husband and the murder of her only son.  Her daughter Isabella, the new countess, provided the land.  Amicia is probably buried near the high altar.  There is a carved head of a lady above one of the abbey doors, that is traditionally said to represent her.

Map board showing the layout of the Abbey, gardens and great Barn.

In 1539, Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries and the abbey and its lands were sold to the Grenvilles, who over the course of 50 years, turned it into a family home.  Many of the monastic buildings were demolished in the process.
The front entrance to Buckland Abbey.

Sir Francis Drake moved to Buckland in 1582.  He was already a wealthy man at age 39, as well as a favorite of Queen Elizabeth.  On his death in 1596, having no children, Buckland passed to his brother Thomas.  It remained in the Drake family, passing to a nephew who modernized it in 1794.  The last Drake descendent to live here was Captian Richard Meyrick, a distant relative, who sold it to a local land owner, after a fire badly damaged the abbey in 1938.

Walking up to the Abbey, every thing was lush green.

The last owner was Captian Rodd, who donated the abbey and great barn to The National Trust.  Working with the City of Plymouth, they turned it into The Drake, Naval and West Country Folk Museum we visited today.
Inside of the great Barn, originally built by the Cistertian order.

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