The Abbey became a victim of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell's Dissolution in 1536 when it was turned into a Tudor Manor. Six monks and the Abbot sailed across Southampton water to Beaulieu Abbey, which suffered the same fate two years later. After that the monks were pensioned off and the Abbot (who had become Abbot of Beaulieu) then became Treasurer to Salisbury Cathedral until his death in 1550.
Now managed by English heritage, the site is free to get in to, welcomes well behaved dogs on leads, and has open access to all the ruins. Being a History Buff, it is the sort of place I love and can wander around happily getting lost in for ages. I think I've said before I'm not good with prissy stuffy historic houses and Netley Abbey definitely aint that. You are free to wander where you choose without anyone jumping on you trying to guide you round or direct you. There are info boards at various locations which tell you all you need to know. It also wasn't busy this morning with only a handful of fellow visitors (all of whom were very friendly- as there were only a few of us wandering through the ruins people tended to chat and share info which was lovely) and a couple of families picnicking, so we were able to soak up the atmosphere in peace.
19th Century Graffiti.
Were this modern I would hate it and be scandalised, but because it is old I find it intriguing. What is this impulse that makes people want to leave their mark in the stonework of ancient buildings?
The one below is my favourite, because it was left exactly 100 years before I was born. Ancient graffiti is so much more elegant than the modern equivalent. People then seemed to take real care over inscribing their names. We found some horrible stuff today that had been recently scribbled on the walls with pen! It looked so coarse and slap-dash in comparison and I doubt anyone will consider it a work of art in a hundred years.
We couldn't figure out what was going on in the pic above. It isn't a bricked up doorway as we initially thought because the stones either side of the gouged line match in places. Was it where a door was going to be made?
The pic below is a bricked up doorway; presumably from the time the Abbey morphed into a Tudor Manor House.
The Abbot's lodgings
Love this Interesting Mix of higgeldy piggeldy brick and stone
The Church (above) which is a good deal longer than this pic suggests. The inscription to Henry Rex is on the pile of stones near where the people are standing at the far end. This pile is all that is left of a tall stone pillar that would once have supported the roof, much as you see in larger Cathedrals today.
The inscription to Henry III. You can just make out the word "Rex" on the right. Henry III took an interest in the Abbey during the 1240's. He was son of John and father of Edward I the Warrior King. This inscription is therefore likely to be over 770 years old. Here is a drawing of it below.
Medieval Heraldic Floor Tiles.
These were just lying beneath the dust at our feet. We couldn't believe what we were seeing when we brushed it away. There were several more broken up in other places but this one was the best preserved. Originally there were tiles in the Abbey that displayed coats of arms from England, France, and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as those of Queen Eleanor of Castile and Richard of Cornwall (who was Count of Poitou 1225-1243 and one of the wealthiest men in Europe- no, I'd never heard of him either!). The chapels in the south transept had tiles with symbols of Edward The Confessor and the Virgin Mary on them. I did a pottery course years ago where we made replica medieval tiles and what a business that was. It made me appreciate the art and craftsmanship of tile making, as so many of ours split or wobbled out of shape, or the markings ran or didn't take properly, so to see this one, several hundred years old and still surviving in situ, was quite remarkable. Lovely old thing.
This is where the monks would have washed, with each archway containing a basin. I get a bit shivery in places like this- it's so easy to imagine people standing here centuries ago, looking at the same stones we were looking at.
Another great place to visit if you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods, and free too, which is a bonus in my book and something that doesn't happen all that often these days with beautiful places.
Hope you're all enjoying the weekend, I'm off to watch the repeat of the butterfly and moth programme which failed to record last night. We had a BBQ with friends and got back after dark, which meant all my moths (who'd been fast asleep in their box since morning) had woken up and were busy bumbling around the windows trying to go out. L, M and I spent the best part of an hour gently potting 150 moths and releasing them into the garden!!