West Langdon Abbey

West Langdon Abbey

West Langdon Abbey was a Premonstratensian abbey, situated near Langdon, Kent. The visible remains of the abbey are now confined to the extensive cellaring below the 16th century house that occupies its site.


The abbey was founded by Sir William de Auberville (an English judge in the reign of Henry II) [ [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=QXoDAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA185&lpg=PA185&dq=%22william+de+auberville%22&source=web&ots=-kGNKeEXss&sig=k8luOc2Iwe3OVWSnzsx_t9ULZEw&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=7&ct=result | Edward Foss, "The Judges of England" (London, 1848), Volume I, at page 185] ] in about 1192 and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Thomas the Martyr. [ [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=51091 | "A Topographical Dictionary of England" (1848)] ] Sir William annexed the church of St. Mary in Walmer to the abbey, in perpetual alms, and the church remained with the abbey until its dissolution. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=etcHAAAAQAAJ&pg=RA1-PA357&dq=%22langdon+abbey%22&as_brr=3#PRA1-PA357,M1 | Stephen Pritchard, "The History of Deal" (Deal, 1864)] ]

Royal favour

In 1325, Edward II recuperated at the abbey, having been taken ill on the road to Dover. [ [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=-NgHAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA145&lpg=PA145&dq=%22langdon+abbey%22&source=web&ots=r1CbvGeCCW&sig=k1ufy_5B2s31NjmOXMTdX0X1lYA&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=14&ct=result | "A Short Historical Sketch of the Town of Dover" (6th edition, 1828)] ] .

The Abbot and Convent of Langedon were granted a licence to crenellate in 1348. [ [http://www.ecastles.co.uk/philipdavis/LOC/13480310.html | The Gatehouse] (online gazetteer of medieval fortifications and castles of England and Wales), accessed on 15 September 2008]

In 1491, it was reported that Langdon had three hundred acres of grain and a very good supply of animals. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=qva-lHKNR4MC&pg=PA144&dq=%22langdon+abbey%22&sig=ACfU3U1pGCu9hxLs3BrfIR-gP6vHzQp2lg#PPA83,M1 | Joseph Gribbin, "The Premonstratensian Order in Late Medieval England" (Boydell Press, 2000)] ]


In 1535, the abbey was reputedly the first religious house to be dissolved by Henry VIII and had, at that time, an annual revenue estimated at £56. Dr. Leyton, the commissioner who carried out the visitation of the abbey, sent the following report to Cromwell on his arrest of the abbot and his mistress::"Please it your goodness to understand that on Friday, the 22nd of October, I rode back with speed to take an inventory of Folkstone, and from thence I went to Langden. Whereat immediately descending from my horse, I sent Bartlett, your servant, with all my servants, to circumspect the abbey, and surely to keep all back-doors and starting-holes. I myself went alone to the abbot's lodging, joining upon the fields and wood, even like a cony clapper, full of starting-holes. [I was] a good space knocking at the abbot's door; "nec vox nec sensus apparuit", saving the abbot's little dog that within his door fast locked bayed and barked. I found a short poleaxe standing behind the door, and with it I dashed the abbot's door in pieces, "ictu oculi", and set one of my men to keep that door ; and about the house I go, with that poleaxe in my hand, "ne forte", for the abbot is a dangerous desperate knave, and a hardy. But for a conclusion, his gentlewoman bestirred her stumps towards her starting-holes; and then Bartlett, watching the pursuit, took the tender damoisel; and, after I had examined her, [brought her] to Dover to the mayor, to set her in some cage or prison for eight days; and I brought holy father abbot to Canterbury, and here in Christchurch I will leave him in prison." [James Anthony Froude, "History of England" (3rd edition, 1862), Volume II, at [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Lq0BAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA446&lpg=PA446&dq=%22langden+abbey%22&source=web&ots=Ipgyfnw2gj&sig=l_bNfeDa6Y6LMm68m2TagOWtQQA&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result | page 447f.] ]

Later history

The fee of the manor was acquired by John Master, who died in 1588. His son, James Master (who died in 1631, aged 84) was described as "Primo de Sandwich, postea de East Langden, ubi edificavit mansionem". ["Formerly of Sandwich and latterly of East Langdon, where he built a house." - "Archaeologia Cantiana" (1863), at [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=UNsGAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA240&lpg=PA240&dq=%22james+master%22+langdon&source=web&ots=RN-aXdauu4&sig=0PAVPbBfAq62GyLHNABFtl0CLm4&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA239,M1 | page 239] ] . James Master's second and eldest surviving son, Sir Edward Master, was High Sheriff of Kent in 1639. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=QcgHAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA238&dq=%22langdon+abbey%22&as_brr=3#PPA239,M1 | William Batcheller, "A New History of Dover" (1828).] ]

The site of the abbey itself was occupied by a farm house, parts of which date back to the 16th century. The monks’ cellar (retaining its original arches) remains in place underneath the house. In 1828, it was reported that the farm house “has been occupied many years by a respectable family of the name of Coleman" ["A Short Historical Sketch of the Town of Dover" (6th edition, Dover, 1828)] , and the returns from the 1881 census show that one Richard Coleman remained a substantial farmer at Langdon as at that date.


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