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Dissolution of the Monastery



The great abbey of Peterborough was closed and its lands and properties confiscated by the king, Henry VIII. Orders had come the previous year to get rid of any relics, and the Abbey’s collection was destroyed. In the spring of 1539, Henry called a Parliament, and legislation was passed to enable all monastic property to be conferred on the crown: all the remaining monasteries were to go. Whilst some monasteries offered resistance, and the monks were dealt with harshly, Abbot John Chambers surrendered the Abbey seal with no resistance when Henry’s commissioners arrived on 29 November 1539. Chambers received an annual pension of £266, 13s 4d. Many monastic buildings were pulled down, with lead from the roofs melted down into lead ‘sows’ for sale.

Oxney Monastic Community



Oxney was once home to a group of monks. The monks were from Peterborough Abbey and would stay there for short spells and then return to the abbey. A chapel was built there in the reign of Henry I, so between 1100 and 1135. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and on occasion known as the Church of St Mary of Oxney. Six monks would have lived at Oxney in what was known as a small cell. One of the monks took over all control of the site and was known as the warden. The last warden of Oxney was Edward Berney who lost his position in 1538 following the dissolution of the monasteries. The site remained in use as a farm or grange until recent times and several of the present buildings can be dated to the monastic cell. Archaeological investigations have revealed habitation since the late Bronze Age. Other features include the remains of a considerable moat which once encircled the buildings, still partly intact, a figurine and a cauldron. There are also purportedly several previous inhabitants who never quite left the vicinity... The land is privately owned and not accessible to the general public. Photo credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Richard Humphrey -

Eyebury Monastic Grange



Eyebury Grange has been in existence since medieval times. It belonged to Peterborough Abbey and is similar to Oxney Grange, which is very close by. Evidence remains of a moat, dovecote, brewhouse, warren and large deer park, which suggest the grange was quite sufficient and productive. The first abbot to take an interest in Eyebury is purportedly Abbot Walter of Bury. He supposedly built a hall surrounded by a moat and drawbridge in the 12th century of which the octagonal column exists in a cellar. This makes it similar in date to Oxney Grange, which dates from the early 12th century. The Victoria County History of Northamptonshire suggests the main hall was built around 1295 by Abbot Godfrey of Crowland. He continued to add further buildings over the next 20 years which included a windmill and lime kiln. It was an important site for the abbey, providing plenty of food, drink and income for the monks. Unsurprisingly, Eyebury Grange was sold on after the dissolution of the monasteries. It eventually became home to the Leeds family, whose children became famous geologists and archaeologists after exploring the local clay and gravel pits. Eyebury Farm is currently a private home and is not open to visitors. References: R M Serjeantson and W Ryland D Adkins, eds., The Victoria history of the county of Northampton: volume two (1906) p491 Photo credit: © Richard Humphrey