Wymondham Abbey, Norfolk

Benedictine Monks

This Benedictine Priory was founded in 1107 by William d’Aubigny. The family were prominent in this part of Norfolk and owned considerable amounts of land. Initially founded for 12 monks, the Priory slowly grew over the centuries. The Priory was initially a dependent cell of St. Albans Abbey, but after a dispute in 1448 the Pope granted Wymondham Abbey status and it became independent.

The Church buildings date to around 1130. Originally it had a central tower, but in 1447 a second tower was started. The Church was, from a very early date, separated into a monks’ area and a townspeoples’ area which is probably what helped save it when the Dissolution arrived in town in 1538. The last Abbot, Elisha Ferrers, was pensioned off and became Vicar of Wymondham. During the next few years the non-ecclesiastical Abbey buildings were slowly demolished for building materials and the east end of the church was blocked off and then taken down, reducing the Abbey Church to around half its original size.

Repairs were undertaken during Elizabeth I’s reign and from thereon in the Abbey Church became the active parish church of Wymondham, which it remains today.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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