Recalling a Distant Past with England’s Great Catholic Buildings

glastonbury abbey
Glastonbury Abbey. Founded in the 7th century, Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset was among the most powerful monasteries in England by the 14th century. Its last abbot, Richard Whiting, was hanged drawn and quartered as a traitor in 1539. (David Boeke | CC BY-SA 2.0)

Looking into a Catholic pilgrimage in England might be challenging with all the other sites in Europe that are more popular. But here are some Catholic buildings that might interest you from an Aleteia article by Zelda Caldwell.

An England king’s arrogance brought forth the erosion of Catholic buildings in the once great bastion of the faith.

It was King Henry VIII, in his desire to have his marriage to his first wife annulled, who selfishly cut-off all ties to Vatican (Rome) and made himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. It was his first order of business to have the dissolution of England’s convents and monasteries.

So between 1536 and 1540, he shut down over 800 monasteries, abbeys and convents, reaping their great accumulated wealth, and effectively neutralizing any political opposition that might have come from the 10,000 displaced religious and their followers.

While some of these sacred buildings were sold off to private owners, others were taken over by England’s new state church. Many others were destroyed or left to ruin.

Here are the haunting remains of England’s Catholic past.

tintern_abbey
Tintern Abbey. The ruins of Tintern Abbey’s church are all that remains of this former Cistercian monastery located in Wales. (Public Domain)
fountains_abbey_yorkshire
Fountains Abbey. Located in North Yorkshire, Fountains Abbey, was once of the wealthiest monasteries in England until it was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539. (Juliet220 | CC BY-SA 3.0)
glastonbury abbey
Glastonbury Abbey. Founded in the 7th century, Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset was among the most powerful monasteries in England by the 14th century. Its last abbot, Richard Whiting, was hanged drawn and quartered as a traitor in 1539. (David Boeke | CC BY-SA 2.0)
furness abbey
Furness Abbey. The ruins of Furness Abbey in Cumbria, England, date back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Once the seat of great wealth and power, it is now a popular tourist attraction made famous the poet Wordsworth and the artist Turner. (Francis Bijl | CC BY 2.0)
roche abbey
Roche Abbey. Northumberland’s Roche Abbey was founded in 1147 for the Cistercian order of monks. Michael Sherbrook, a priest who witnessed its pillaging in 1538, wrote: “For nothing was spared except the ox-houses and swinecoates and other such houses or offices that stood outside the walls – these had greater favour shown to them than the church itself.” (JohnArmagh | CC BY-SA 3.0)
lewes priory
Lewes Priory. The ruins of Lewes Priory in East Sussex are all that remains of the Priory of St. Pancras, the first Cluniac house in England. Henry VIII’s secretary, Thomas Cromwell, had the building demolished, and a large home (“The Lord’s Place) built for his son Gregory on the grounds of the priory. (JohnArmagh | CC BY-SA 3.0)england
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