Isle of Albion
Photographed: Monday 13th July 2009
Site rating:

Leiston Abbey - formerly known as St Mary's Abbey - was founded in 1182AD at Minsmere by Ranulf de Glanville, Lord Chief Justice to Henry II, as an Augustinian religious house following the Premonstratensian rule. The original site proved prone to flooding, so in 1363AD, the Abbey relocated to Leiston.

Following an uneventful history, the abbey was dissolved in 1536AD, and the buildings granted to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk - brother-in-law to Henry VIII. The abbey found use as a farm, with the ruins being incorporated into the farmhouse. A Georgian front was added at a later date, and the building extended during the 1920s. In 1928, the farm and associated ruins were purchased by Miss Ellen Wrightson for use as a religious retreat. Upon her death, the estate was bequeathed into the hands of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich. In 1977, the buildings were sold to the Pro Corda Trust - a charity focusing on instructing young musicians in the art of chamber music.

Today, substantial portions of the original abbey - including the walls of the main church - survive, making the abbey well worth a visit. Although privately owned, the site is managed by English Heritage and access is available at any reasonable time.