This is the warm part of the building housing the kitchen, toilets and more!
It was built in 2005 with heritage funding. As the Abbey is a grade I listed building it is constructed so that it could be removed without damaging the fabric of the Abbey. On the other side of St Benedict’s is a further extension built at the same time and christened St Margaret’s. Both house artifacts for you to explore, many of them in drawers which you are welcome to open. To get to St Margaret’s you need to pass below the ‘ruined tower.’
It is unusual to have a church with two towers! The ruined one is the tower which was part of the monk’s own church. It is not the original tower, that was demolished because there was a fear it might collapse and the new tower was erected further west taking part of the parish church away. To get some idea of the total length of the Abbey, look out through the railings across the graveyard. You will see a solitary sloping rectangular stone tilted slightly towards you and in line the main church. This is where the monk’s high altar would have been located, and the stone is a inscribed with the founder’s name William d’Aubigny. While you are under the tower you can read more here.
Sadly William d’Aubigny’s wife Maud (nee Bigod) died in childbirth. An archaeological dig in 1834 near this spot unearthed two lead coffins, one of a woman and one of an unborn child. We believe these to be those aforementioned. In medieval times the unborn child was recognised as a unique human being and such babies were not baptised, and were buried beneath the church eaves so that there was a constant baptism for them from the dripping of rain.
We end our tour on what may seem a gloomy scene, but as Christians we believe that the resurrection of Jesus reminds us that this is the hope of all those who have found his forgiveness and mercy and a promise of eternal life that starts when we first enter his Kingdom and extends beyond the frailty of this life. To find out more about life changing events you could try the Alpha Course to find out more in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere where you can ask questions without any pressure.
If you found this tour useful please consider making a donation to the upkeep and maintenance of the Abbey. It is open to the public thanks to the support of its many volunteers and the support of those who come to visit us. There is a donation box near the entrance/exit and there is also a contactless donation point on the kitchen counter in St Benedict’s.
As you leave the Abbey we want God to bless you, to go with you and to give you his peace, because Jesus came into this place of worship to call people to follow him. He can walk with them and bless them with joy, and in their suffering, forgive them in his grace and mercy and he calls us into a greater love than any of us can dream or imagine. He is that kind of a God.