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Beauchief Abbey

From Academic Kids

Beauchief Abbey is an abbey in Sheffield, England.

The abbey was founded in 1176 or 1183 (sources differ) by Robert FitzRanulf de Alfreton and dedicated to Saint Mary and Saint Thomas Becket. The legend that Robert bore some of the guilt for the murder of Thomas Becket is not supported by any evidence. The abbey was of the Premonstratensian order founded by Saint Norbert at Prémontré in France. Members of the order were known as White Canons. Beauchief was a small house comprising around 12 to 15 canons plus lay brothers. It had the full range of monastic buildings including the abbey church, cloisters, chapter house, dormitory and refectory. A stream provided water to the Abbey and to fish ponds.

As with most monastic sites, Beauchief was an industrial as well as a religious centre. Farming on the Beauchief estate and on outlying manors was important and the monastery also controlled iron smelting, mineral extraction, woodland industries and mills on the River Sheaf.

The Abbey was dissolved in 1537 and the estate became the property of Sir Nicholas Strelley, from whom it descended to the Pegge and Burnell families. In 1671 Edward Pegge built Beauchief Hall using stone from the now ruined Abbey. In 1923 the estate was purchased by Mr Frank Crawshaw. Some of the land was sold for housing development but much was presented to Sheffield Corporation.

Today only the western tower of the Abbey remains attached to a chapel (now a church) built in the 17th century. The foundations of other buildings are visible and the medieval fishponds still exist. Parkbank Wood behind the Abbey is an Ancient Woodland and the surrounding landscape (now occupied by a golf course) still retains historic features such as ridge & furrow and white coal pits.

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