Hyde Abbey

Hyde Abbey

Hyde Abbey was a Benedictine monastery just outside the walls of Winchester, Hampshire, dissolved and demolished in 1538.

At the time Alfred the Great refounded the royal city of Winchester about 880 AD, the Saxon cathedral and the royal palace stood at the heart of the city. As the city grew, land was purchased in the city in the last year of Alfred's reign, and work was begun on the New Minster, beside the Old Minster, under the direction of Edward the Elder; when it was sufficiently complete, about 903, it was consecrated and fully endowed, the abbot Grimbald (died 8 July 901), a learned monk of St. Bertin at St. Omer in Flanders, was instated and the body of Alfred was reinterred in the new structure. Several further members of the royal house were also interred in the New Minster. The gift in 1041 by Queen Emma, widow of Cnut, of the head of Saint Valentine was cherished as one of the most valuable possessions of the now-reformed Benedictine house.

In 1109 Henry I ordered the New Minster to be removed to the suburb of Hyde Mead, to the north of the city walls, just outside the gate; when the new abbey church of Hyde was consecrated in 1110, the bodies of Alfred, his wife Ealhswith, and his son Edward the Elder were carried in state through Winchester to be interred once more before the high altar. Their royal presence made Hyde Abbey a popular pilgrimage destination.

In 1141 the church suffered damage when Winchester was burned during The Anarchy between supporters of King Stephen and Matilda, and it had to be substantially rebuilt. Henceforward the abbey prospered and acquired considerable land in the area, until it was dissolved in 1539 [The deed of surrender was published in Copenhagen 1996 (see note below).] by Henry VIII at the dissolution of the monasteries and the surviving monks pensioned. The buildings were rapidly disassembled for their building materials and anything else of value. Lucky survivors from the lost library are the cartulary (conserved in the British Library), the late-13th or early-14th century breviary [One of only six surviving breviaries of English provenance, it was eEited by J.B.L. Tolhurst and published as "The Monastic Breviary of Hyde Abbey, Winchester" (London: Henry Bradshaw Society), 6 vols. 1932.] and the "Lober vitae", the book of the men and women this Benedictine community remembered in prayer. [Simon Keynes, "The Liber Vitae of the New Minster and Hyde Abbey, Winchester" (Copenhagen) 1996, including facsimiles.] Today all that remains is the gatehouse that commanded the entrance between inner and outer precincts of the Abbey and an arch that used to span the abbey millstream.

In the nineteenth century John Mellor, a local antiquary, carried out excavations on the site and claimed to have found the remains of King Alfred the Great, whose crypt had been ransacked for valuables and whose bones were reburied outside St. Bartholomew's church, Winchester, in a simple grave.

Abbey Property

The Abbey owned land in Collingbourne Kingston in Wiltshire, which was originally called Collingbourne Abbots due to the link with Hyde Abbey. [ [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=23044 Collingbourne Kingston | British History Online ] ]


External links

* [http://www.britainexpress.com/counties/hampshire/winchester/hyde-abbey.htm Britain Express: Hyde Abbey]
* [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=38095 'Houses of Benedictine monks: New Minster, or the Abbey of Hyde', "A History of the County of Hampshire" Volume 2 (1973), pp. 116-22.] Date accessed: 17 March 2007.

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