Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Members Outing to Quarr Abbey

Start of the Abbey Tour

On Tuesday morning 7th May, a small group from RSHG visited Quarr Abbey, for some it was a first visit; we were blessed with fine weather. The ‘tour’ began at 11 prompt led by Joe Manighetti. He had a firm grasp of the history and life of the abbey, starting with the earliest history of this Cistercian monastery in the 12th century; the destruction of the first abbey by order of King Henry VIII when all monasteries were dissolved, to the building of today’s abbey.

The monks came originally from France, from the Benedictine order they lead a “hard life” of prayer and work. Now only 9 monks are living there, once having been around 100 when the present building was completed in 1912. This was built using almost 2 million bricks shipped over from Belgium; English brick wouldn’t have given the same ‘glow’ effect that the architect, Paul Bellot, required. It was the first time such a high building had been built in brick that the workman feared that it would collapse when the scaffold was removed. Inside the abbey there is remedial work going on so it was empty of furniture, had we seen it furnished it would still have been very plain as the architect intended. The inside has no plasterwork; we see the red and yellow brick which is shown at its best when the Sun pours through the orange and yellow glass.

The abbey welcomes people to stay as a retreat, guests being welcomed as if it were Christ himself;

Our guide told us that he had stayed in 1953, having received such a welcome that he “hadn’t left”. Our tour lasted an hour and a quarter, Joe talking almost continuously, well worth a visit for those who missed it.

We finished our morning with a visit to the tea rooms, (which was sponsored by the RSHG), it is obviously very popular judging by the queue to be served.


Photographs by Barbara Hunt and Wendy Steel