Great Benedictine Abbey of Ramsey, dedicated to Our Lady, St Benedict and
all Holy Virgins, was the first of the great religious houses in Eastern Fenland
to be founded and in its time one of the most important, influential
and wealthiest Abbey in the Fens. In its heyday it was home to at
least 80 Monks, and behind its walls a renowned school was founded by the
great scholar, Abbo, who came to Ramsey from Fleury,
a notable Benedictine Monastery in France, in about 985, and instructed
the Monks in the arts. He stayed for about two years.
It was also the home of a famous
Library, which in its time was probably one of the largest Abbatial
Libraries then existing, full of manuscripts and books, some of which still survive today
in the Ashmolean catalogue and the Cottonian Collection.
over 500 years the Abbey flourished, but in 1539 the Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII. Then it
passed into the hands of
Sir Richard Williams (alias Cromwell), from then
on it was used as a surface quarry and gradually it was destroyed, being
sold piece by piece.
is very little to see of the once great Abbey, only a wonderful 15th
Century Abbey Gate House and an impressive wall separating the School from the
Churchyard and Abbey Green, which uses fabric left over from the destruction. There is also the Abbey School which incorporates a lot of Abbey stone
into its structure, and in the basement there is a part surviving 13th
century Lady Chapel?. The Parish Church of
St Thomas a' Beckett has
its bell Tower constructed from Abbey stone too, it was built in around
I would like to thank the
Huntingdonshire Local History Society for the generous donation given to
me, from the Goodliff Fund, which has enabled me to set up this site.
I hope it will help to generate interest in the Historic past of Ramsey, this once
important Fenland Town.
Also I would like to thank
Ramsey Rural Museum, for allowing me to use their extensive set of
archives, for research into the History of Ramsey Abbey. Also Ray
Leonard who has collected and written down over the years many details
about the History of Ramsey Town and the Abbey, which he has kindly
donated recently to the Museum archives.
Website by Clive