Thomas a Becket Church


St Thomas a'Becket Church

The Parish Church dedicated to St Thomas a Becket, is thought to have been the original hospital, infirmary, or guest house of the Abbey.

The present building, which was originally erected about 1180, is of a peculiar plan.  The very small chancel, the long nave, and the absence of a tower from the original church, suggested to the investigators of the Royal Commision on Historical Monuments that the building was probably designed for the Hospital, infirmary or guest house of the Abbey.  The chancel would form the chapel, and the nave the main hall.

As in the case of all Monasteries of Pre-Conquest foundation, the parishioners of Ramsey would have had rights in the Monastic church.

 In the 12th century stricter rules, and more elaborate services like the Sunday procession were introduced.  The parochial services would then have probably interfered with those of the monks.  Accommodation for the parishioners would be normally made outside the monastic church in a parochial chapel. 

Probably because of this, a chapel, to serve the people of the town was built at Bury, which was in the banlieu area and close to Ramsey.  In 1139, Pope Innocent the II refers to Bury chapel just after it was built, as being situated near to the monastery.  Where the Abbot's servants (parishioners) could hear Divine service. (VCH)

The Vicar of Ramsey parish is mentioned as early as the reign of Edward III, in 1362, and a house for him to live in is mentioned at that date.  So he obviously lived separately from the monks in the Monastery. (7)