Regal Ruin – Titchfield Abbey

I love a good ruin hunt and thanks to Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, there are quite a few to see in the UK today, all at various degrees of disintegration.  So it’s Ruin Week here on A3Traveller!

Titchfield Abbey looks quite impressive when you drive through its narrow gateway to park up in front of it (yes – your car will fit!).

It began life as the Abbey of St Mary and St John the Evangelist in 1232, commissioned by Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester for the Premonstratensian order (founded in Prémontré, France).

The Abbey Estate entailed many thousands of acres of land with its own farm buildings – a stopping off point for expeditions to the Continent.  Indeed Henry V is said to have stayed there before going off on campaign to France.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the estate passed in 1537 to Thomas Wriothesley, first Earl of Southampton who by 1542, had converted the monastic buildings into a private Tudor residence known as The Place.  Royal guests to the house included Henry VIII, Edward VI, Elizabeth I and Charles I with his queen, Henrietta Maria.

The third Earl of Southampton was a patron of William Shakespeare and it is believed that some of Shakespeare’s plays were performed here for the first time.

Place House survived until 1781, when most of the building was demolished for building stone.  In the early 20th century archaeological excavations helped to clarify the layout of the monastic buildings, and the abbey plan is marked out on the ground.

These medieval tiles survived as they lay undiscovered under the courtyard of the Tudor mansion – until excavations in the 1920’s unearthed them.  They are very similar to other nearby abbeys suggesting they were all made in the late 13th century by the same team of tile makers.

I’m left wondering if they won business by showing sample books of their skill set.  I wouldn’t put it past them – Roman artisans apparently did just that at Fishbourne Roman Palace after all!

Titchfield Abbey, near Fareham, Hampshire, PO15 5RA – part of English Heritage.  Entrance is free.

Contributor & photographer:  Sue Lowry.

Follow A3Traveller on Twitter:  @A3Traveller and Sue Lowry on Google +, YouTube, Linkedin, Flickr and Pinterest.  I also operate another blog for my company, MagellanPR – http://www.magellanstraits.com.  They can be followed on Twitter:  @MagellanPR, on Google+, on YouTube, on Pinterest and on Facebook.

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