Abbot's Hall, Boxley

Venue Type & Location

Monastic residence

Site Name: Abbot's Hall, Boxley Abbey
Location: near Maidstone
County: Kent
Location Type: Town - near town at determined location

Overview

Boxley Abbey was located a couple of miles NE of Maidstone near the Pilgrim's Way on about 15 acres of low-lying land enclosed by a stone wall. Until the Dissolution, Boxley was a popular stopping place for pilgrims making their way to Canterbury. The abbey was one of the first Cistercian houses established in England. Excavations early in the 1970s confirmed that it conformed to typical 12th c. Cistercian architectural patterns. The abbot's house is presumed to have been to the E of the dormitory (E) range. Only a 13th c. stone barn and remnants of the surrounding medieval wall can still be seen on the property. An 18th c. brick residence incorporating some earlier fabric now stands on the site of the original S end of the W range of conventual buildings.

Performance History

There are records for Boxley Abbey showing payments to pipers, minstrels, trumpeters and players, ranging from 1353--1408/9. The abbot's house was a likely venue for most of these performers.

Current Status

Extensive gardens and some ruins extant. The Best-Shaw family uses the house as a private residence and the property is not open to the public.

History of the Venue

1146 Abbey dedicated to the Virgin Mary founded by William of Ypres (King Stephen's leading agent in Kent) for Cistercian monks brought from Clairvaux Abbey in France. late 12th c. Church built.

1538 Abbot John Dobbes surrendered the abbey to the Crown.

1540 Granted to the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt.

1543 Sir Thomas Wyatt the younger sold a substantial portion of his estates to pay his father's debts. The Boxley Abbey site may have been a part of this sale. Wyatt was granted the site again in 1546.

1554 Wyatt executed, attainted and lands forfeited for rebellion against Mary I.

1569 John Astley, Master of the Jewel House to Elizabeth I, obtained a 30-year grant of the Boxley Abbey site. At some point after the Dissolution, in the Tudor period, W range converted for use as a residence, portions of which are still extant in the smaller, present house. Abbey church and E range mostly demolished. It is unclear whether the Wyatts (primarily resident at Allington Castle, Kent) or Astley (primarily resident at Maidstone Palace, Kent) built the Tudor house.

1622 Sir Thomas Wyatt the younger's son, George, granted Boxley Abbey. He was the first Wyatt to style himself 'of Boxley Abbey'.

later 17th c. Henry Wyatt left the property to his only child, Frances, who carried the title in marriage to her husband, Sir Thomas Selyard.

18th c. Selyard's grand-daughters sold the abbey to Francis Austen of Sevenoaks, Kent.

1772 Bequeathed to John Amherst by Sir Robert Austen, baronet. The estate passed through various owners for the next 2 centuries.

1971--2 Selective excavation of the site by the Kent Archaeological Society to establish the general plan of the abbey.

Record Source

REED Kent: Diocese of Canterbury 2.905--9

Bibliographic Sources

Ingram.
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Cave-Browne, J. The History of Boxley Parish. Maidstone: E.J. Dickinson (for the author), 1892.
Cistercians in Yorkshire Project. Cistercian Abbeys: BOXLEY. 11/21/2008 (http://cistercians.shef.ac.uk/abbeys/boxley.php)
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