Pershore Abbey, Worcestershire

Benedictine Monks

The Abbey at Pershore was founded by St. Oswald, Bishop of Worcester in 681 AD. By 689 the community of monks was well established, but during the Viking raids and the subsequent Danelaw period the Abbey struggled to maintain stability.

In 972 the Abbey became a Benedictine foundation and it began to flourish. However in the late 10th Century there were anti-monastic riots in the area and two thirds of the Estate was seized by Earl Alfhere of Mercia.

A diastrous fire in 1002 destroyed the Abbey and it was rebuilt in its entirety by 1020. This structure survived until around 1090 when the Normans rebuilt the Abbey Church entirely. The south transept and parts of the tower remain fromt his version of the Abbey that was completed around 1130 and was one of the largest Benedictine foundations in England at that time.

In 1223 a fire destroyed much of the Norman Choir and a rebuilding programme was undertaken which finished around 1239. Not many years later, in 1288, a second fire started in the monastic bakehouse which caused the upper parts of the Norman tower to fall onto the newly rebuilt Choir, destroying it again.

All was rebuilt once more between 1290 and 1330 in the Decorated style. It was this version of the Abbey that was surrendered to the King's Commissioners in 1540 during the Dissolution. Much of the structure was demolished and sold for building materials, but the parishoners of Pershore managed to raise £400 to buy the Choir to be their parish church.

By the 1860s, however, the Abbey Church was in poor condition. After the east parapet blew down in the storm George Gilbert Scott was brought in and restoration work began. The work seems to have been perfunctory as by as early as 1913 there were serious cracks appearing in the south transept. In 1960 George Pace swept away much of the Victorianisation of the Abbey and we are left with an oddly truncated building which, nevertheless, reeks of antiquity.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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