Bruton Abbey


Bruton Abbey

Bruton Abbey in Bruton, Somerset was originally founded as a Benedictine priory by Algar, Earl of Cornwall in about 1005. It was subsequently refounded as a house of Augustinian canons in 1135, by William de Mohun, who later became the Earl of Somerset. The village used the north aisle of the priory church as their parish church. It was endowed with manors, churches and other properties in the area and also in France.

History

In 1260 the priory exchanged its french (Normandy) possessions for land held at Runcton in Sussex and in Gloucestershire, by the Abbey of Troarn (nr Caen). There were allot of problems reported in the 15th century. John Schoyle became prior in 1419 and seems to have been unsuitable for the post being accused in 1423 of having committed serious offences. In 1428 Bishop Stafford seems to have removed the prior Schoyle from office, and in 1429, he was sent to live at the house of Augustinian Canons at Poughley in Berkshire. His successor, Richard of Glastonbury, proved to be equally troublesome and in 1430 and again in 1444, inquiries were conducted due to charges of immorality against the prior and the whole community. Under a later reforming prior various rules were introduced including; that the canons were no longer to sleep away from the house without permission, were no longer to hunt or play dice or allow women into the monastery.

It became an abbey in 1511. There seems to have been considerable problems both from within and outside of the monastery leading up to its dissolution in 1539, with criminal accusations against the abbott, Ely, and even possible plots against his life. The Abbot was known to have been a prisoner in the Tower of London, later in 1539.

Post Dissolution

The abbey was originally granted to a John Drew of Bristol but later transferred to Sir Maurice Berkeley. He built a house on the site, incorporating some of the buildings, but this was demolished in 1786. Sir Maurice was a prominent courtier and his impressive Renaissance inspired tomb and that of his wives, is retained in the later chancel. The present parish church is mainly a 14th-15th structure with an unusual feature in that the chancel at some point was replaced with a light, airy Georgian rebuilding. This contrasts rather strangely with the medieval remainder which some believe was part of the original abbey church however it is more likely that this was a separate building adjacent.

References

*'Houses of Augustinian canons: The priories of Bruton and Burtle Moor', A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 2 (1911), pp. 134-39.
* Anthony New. 'A Guide to the Abbeys of England And Wales', p81-82. Constable.
* Colin Platt. 'The Travellers Guide to Medieval England', p132. Secker & Warburg.


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