St Benet's Abbey

St Benet's Abbey

St Benet's Abbey is a ruined abbey situated on the River Bure within The Broads in Norfolk England. It is also known as St. Benet's at Holme or Hulme.


St Benet's, according to abbey tradition, was founded on the site of a ninth-century monastery where the hermit Suneman was martyred by the Danes. About the end of the tenth century it was rebuilt by one Wulfric. A generation later, c. 1022, its estates of Horning, Ludham and Neatishead were confirmed by King Canute. Other early benefactors included Ealdgyth Swan-neck, concubine to Harold Godwinson, and Earl Ralf II of East Anglia.

At the time of the Norman Conquest Harold Godwinson put the abbot of St. Benet's, Aelfwold, in charge of defending the coast against invasion. After the Conquest, Aelfwold fled to Denmark, and the abbey's estates suffered encroachments by neighbouring landowners. The site was enclosed by a wall with battlements in 1327.

Sir John Fastolf, the inspiration for Shakespeare's Falstaff figure, was buried here in December 1459, next to his wife Millicent in a new aisle built by Fastolf on the South side of the abbey church.

St Benet's was the only religious house not closed down by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Instead he united the Abbacy with the bishopric of Norwich and therefore, the Bishops of Norwich have stayed abbots of St. Benet's to this day. However, the buildings were allowed to fall into decay and the Abbey was abandoned about 1545.

The Bishop of Norwich, as Abbot, arrives once a year, standing in the bow of a wherry and preaches at the annual service on the first day of August. About the year 1800 a farmer built a windpump inside the abbey gatehouse. On 2 August 1987 a cross made from oak from the Royal Estate at Sandringham was erected on the site of the High Altar.


The years listed are election datescite book | title = A History of the County of Norfolk vol. 2 | chapter = Partly from The Abbey of St. Benet at Holme | chapterurl = | year = 1906 | location = London, England] .


Further reading


External links

* [ Norfolk Archaeological Trust] - Owners of St Benet's at Holme
* [ St Benet's Abbey Mill History]

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