SHAP ABBEY, CUMBRIA

Grid Ref: NY 547 122
Date: 7 September 2014

 

Shap Abbey lies a mile west of the A6 running south from Penrith. It is accessed by a steep lane which in part is single carriageway. The abbey is at an elevation of 750 feet and in this area one can encounter inclement weather throughout the seasons. I was fortunate to arrive on a beautiful day in September. The ruins are now in the care of English Heritage.

Shap Abbey
Shap Abbey
Shap Abbey
Shap Abbey
Shap Abbey
View from the South
Nave
The body of the nave

Shap Abbey was founded by the Praemonstratensian, an order was founded in the 1120s. They were also known as the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré, the Norbertines and, in Britain and Ireland as the White Canons. They were founded in Prémontré near Laon in 1120 by Saint Norbert, who later became Archbishop of Magdeburg. Norbert was a friend of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the founder of the Cistercians. The Praemonstratensians were not monks but canons regular and their work included preaching and conducting services in the parishes close to their abbeys. Like the Cistercians, Premonstratensian canons wore white habits and built their monasteries in remote places.

Shap Abbey was founded in about 1200 by a local baron, Thomas, son of Gospatric, who granted the canons land beside the River Lowther. A walled precinct with an outer gatehouse enclosed the monastic buildings, abbey mill and fishponds. The land was granted to the Governor of Carlisle in 1540 following King Henry VIII's suppression of the abbey and the eviction of its canons. Some of the main monastic buildings were re-used as a farm, but most were gradually dismantled and the materials re-used. Masonry was robbed at the end of the 17th century to build Shap Market Hall, and much of the ornate carved stonework was also removed and used in the building of Lowther Castle.

Sources:

Wikipedia articles on Shap Abbey and Praemonstratensians

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