Croxton Abbey history: part 1

The abbey was situated towards the right. Use your keyboard right arrow key to see more views.

This quiet and picturesque valley was once home to a rich and powerful medieval abbey.

Click the image to enlarge and also see further views.
This history of Croxton Abbey was written by R I Hanlon in Dec 1984. It also contains information on the later history of Croxton Kerrial village which I haven’t included here. Click here to download the complete 20 page document as a pdf file.

I’ve divided the history into 13 parts. Click on any link, or simply follow the links which appear at the end of each section.
Part 1 (below): Introduction
Part 2: Historical background
Part 3: The origin of the pre-nonstratensian order
Part 4: The order’s way of life
Part 5: The dedication of the abbey
Part 6: History of Croxton Abbey
Part 7: History of Croxton Abbey continued
Part 8: The abbey and the Croyll family (1242-1336)
Part 9: The abbey in the 14th century
Part 10: The 15th century
Part 11: The closing years of Croxton Abbey
Part 12: Demolition
Part 13: From the Restoration to the End of the 18th Century

Introduction

If you travel down Ling’s Hill on the A607 road from Waltham to Croxton Kerrial, you can see on your right hand side a picturesque valley stretching towards the south. That is Croxton Park (above) – once a royal medieval deer park, but also the site of a famous pre-monstratensian abbey.

At the bottom of the hill, a private road on your right leads into the park. And, on your right, as you go along it, you can see embankments which, in former times, enclosed the water for Croxton’s mediaeval water mill. Further on you meet three fish ponds which, in former days, provided fish for the monks of the abbey.

On your left is a house which was originally called the Water Bailiff’s cottage. Another few hundred yards on your left stand the ruins of an ancient hunting lodge – Park House, the home of the Belvoir, Quorn and Gottesmore hunts, and the home of the famous Croxton races which were run every year, during the nineteenth century (in the last week of March or in the first week of April) in that part of Croxton Park which is called the ‘liberty of Bescaby’.

Nothing substantial is left of the once famous mediaeval abbey but we do know where it was and what it looked like. Two 13th century cartularies of the abbey say that it was founded near a spring called Haliwell (Holywell) which is situated behind the Water Baliff’s cottage (view OS map).

Aerial photographs (1948, 1949, 1952 and 1972) show that most of the abbey buildings lay to the east of a line running from the Baliff’s cottage to Park House. The grid reference is SK824276. Older Ordnance Survey maps refer to its foundation period as Temp, Henry II.

In the early part of the 20th century, the then Marquis of Granby, grandfather of the present Duke of Rutland, carried out excavations there over many years. As a result of these, architectural drawings of the foundations were made and also pictorial reproductions of the original buildings.

According to a drawing in 1926 by Sir Arthur Clapham, the original church was cruciform in shape, without aisles (a common premonstratension feature), with a small cloister, chapter house, kitchen, frater and dorter.

In the 13th century a presbytery was added to the east end and other portions also. In the 14th century the Guest House was built, and in the 15th century the church was further extended.

The original abbey church measured 154 feet in length but this was finally extended to 209 1/2 feet (62.85m). Those who wish to see the ground plan should check on an article in Part IV, (1944-45), Vol.XXII, of the Transactions of the Leicester Archaeological Society, by Mr. A.P. Herbert.

Part 2: Historical background

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