St Benet’s Abbey was a medieval monastery of the Order of Saint Benedict, situated on the River Bure within the Norfolk Broads.
It’s hard to pin down facts about this abbey as there are little surviving sources. What is known is that St Benet’s Abbey is the only monastery not closed by Henry VIII in the 1530s when he shut down all monasteries. Abbot Rugge was made Bishop of Norwich and remains the Abbot in exchange for properties given to the crown.
Although the abbey wasn’t closed the last monks left in 1545 and the monastery fell into ruin. The Bishops sold the stone and flint from the buildings to pay debts.
The remains of St Benet’s Abbey are within the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Living Landscape area. Ther are a number of endangered species either living or visiting Abbey. Such as the Common Crane, Norfolk hawker dragonfly and the swallowtail butterfly.
The afternoon we walked to the Abbey was bright and sunny, the wind, however, was bitterly cold. We followed a footpath not far from Ludham Bridge along a drainage ditch that runs parallel to the River Ante. Upon which we could see all types of boats on their travels.
Pretty much from the beginning, we could see the remains of the 18th-century windmill that had been built into the walls of the Abbey’s Gatehouse. The closer we got, the more excited the photographer became. Our necessary slow pace, for Ella, must have been killing him. The scenery was, as usual, stunning.
We weren’t expecting to see the Cross, which stands in the spot of the High Altar. Made of English Oak from Sandringham. Queen Elizabeth II presented the cross on 2nd August 1987.
The Bishop of Norwich still conducts a service on the first Sunday of August beside the cross. He arrives in the bow of a wherry.
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