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MEDMENHAM ABBEY.

Medmenham Abbey is pleasantly situated in the parish of the name it bears, on the banks of the Thames, about four miles to the south-west of Great Marlow, in the county of Buckingham.

This manor being given, before the second of King John, by Hugh de Bolbec, to the Cistercian monks of Wooburne, in Bedfordshire, they transferred some of their society to this spot, about the year 1204, and it became a small Abbey of that order, being rather a daughter, to use their own precise expression, than a cell to its monastic parent. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and valued, in the twenty-sixth year of Henry the Eighth, when it was inhabited only by two monks, at twenty pounds six shillings and two-pence per annum. In the twenty-ninth year of Henry the Eighth, it was made part of the new Abbey of Bristleham, or Bisham, in its immediate vicinity, on the opposite side of the river, in the county of Berks. After the suppression of that religious house, it was granted to Robert More and others, in the thirty-eighth year of the same king. Such are the particulars which Tanner, in his Notitia, gives of this Abbey.

Browne Willis, in his Survey, &c. observes, “ that the account of the Abbots of Medmenham is very imperfect, as it was only a cell to the Abbey of Wooburne, and altogether subordinate to the government of that house. All he can find are, Roger, who was abbot in the year 1256; Peter, who was elected to that office on the eleventh day of September, in the year 1995; and two others, after long intervals, the one named Henry, who presided here in the year 1416; and the other, named Richard, who appears to have been abbot in the year 1521, and is supposed to have been the last of these solitary dignitaries. There was only one monk, whose name was Guy Strenshill."

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The return of the commissioners, appointed in the reign of Henry the Eighth, to examine into the state of the religious houses, is rather curious. It is as follows: “ Medmenham Abbey is a monastery of the order of Saint Bernard.—The clear value twenty pounds six shillings and twopence per annum.-Monks two; and both desyren to go to houses of religion: servants none.-Bells, &c. worth two pounds one shilling and eight-pence.—The house wholly in ruine.—The value of the moveable goods, one pound one shilling and eight-pence.-Woods none.—Debts none." The abbot was epistolar of the Order of the Garter.

« The walls of the north isle of the Abbey church,” says Browne Willis, who visited it in 1712," are still standing; it

"6 is in length sixteen, and in breadth four, yards. The church, therefore, must have been a neat stately building, well wrought with Ashler work, and the windows lofty and spacious: it appears to have consisted of a body, two side isles, and chancels, with a tower at the west end.” But since Browne Willis wrote, most of the remains, which he mentions, have fallen, or been taken down. Some build ings, in imitation of ruins, have of late years been erected on the site of the Abbey, with a very pleasing effect.

Robert Moore, to whom this Abbey was granted in the year 1547, conveyed the estate, in 1558, to the family of Duffield, who resided at the Abbey, and continued in possession till 1778, when the site of it was purchased by John Morton, Esq. Chief Justice of Chester, and was sold by his widow, in 1786, to Robert Scott, Esq. of Danesfield, which formed a part of the same purchase.

About the middle of the last century, the Abbey-house became an object of curiosity, from having been made a place of occasional seclusion by a society of men of wit and fashion; who, during their residence here, assumed the title of monks of St. Francis, and wore the habit of the Franciscan order. They consisted of Sir Francis Dashwood, afterwards Lord Le Despencer; the Earl of Sandwich; Sir Thomas Stapleton; John Wilkes; Paul White

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