Benedictine Monks, Knights Templar, Poor Clares
One of the less known Abbeys in the
The Domesday Book records that the land here was owned by Edwith Swanneck, the widow of King Harold I. It later passed to Alan of Richmond who held it for the Crown.
The first religious house was founded by Benedictine Monks who abandoned their waterlogged monastery at nearby Elmeney and set up here in the 1150s. Their priory opened in 1159 and parts of it survive to this day. The Benedictines stayed for just ten more years before leaving to go to Ely Abbey (now the Cathedral) in 1169.
The monastery and lands were then moved to the Knights Templar. The Templars greatly enlarged the site, adding a large arched doorway to the church and the Refectory which still stands today. Denny became a hospital for sick members of the Order. In 1308, however, Edward II had all the members of the Order arrested for alleged heresy and Denny was turned over to the Knights Hospitallers who were not interested in the property at all. By 1324 it was Crown land.
In 1327 Edward III gave the Priory to
the Countess of
Pembroke (who also founded
The Poor Clares stayed until the Dissolution, but
time that happened, in 1536, only a few Nuns were still at Denny. Parts
structure were demolished, but the original Abbey church survived as a
farmhouse and the Refectory as a barn. In 1928 the Abbey and lands were
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