This month we’re visiting Croxden Abbey in Staffordshire. It’s not far from Lichfield and played a very minor role in one of the Brother Cadfael books – though for the life of me I can’t remember which one!
Though it’s not the most glamorous of the ruined abbeys, Croxden has a quiet charm. The pictures were taken in what my brother likes to call ‘a slight precipitation’.
[randomly, the pictures show up larger than they actually are on my screen, but if you refresh the page, they go back to their normal size!]
Croxden was founded by Betram de Verdun, Lord of Alton (as in the themepark Alton Towers, just up the road from Croxden) in 1179. Originally sited at the nearby village of Coton, the Cistercians moved to Croxden as it was more remote. Generally, I’ve found that the Cistercians placed their monasteries in locations that have no mobile phone signal. Croxden is the exception.
The abbey is considered a ‘late build’, and therefore is less austere than earlier Cistercian monasteries. This picture is of the church – a road cuts through the centre of it. The east end had a chevet (five circular chapels adjoining the ambulatory), which sadly doesn’t survive today.
Several graves of abbots and benefactors lie within the chevet and just outside the east end of the church.
The chapter house. The arch to the right is the sacristy. On the left is a passageway linking the infirmary and outlying buildings to the cloister.
View from the sacristy back towards the remains of the church. Behind the sacristy is the book cupboard.
The cloister. The chapter house is on the left; ahead is the warming room and the kitchen range (you can see the two large fireplaces). After the Dissolution, parts of the monastery were converted into a farm. The farm building that still stands alongside it is Georgian; behind the kitchen range is a tennis court!
This is the west front, the original entrance to the church.
Here’s part of the infirmary. An unusual feature is these two uprights, originally the legs of a table, so this was the infirmary refectory.
The abbot’s lodgings, west of the infirmary. Cistercian planning was pretty strict, but abbots seemed to site their houses pretty much anywhere. Generally they were located close to the infirmary, though.
For some reason I have a fondness for monastic drains. Every drain is different!
Unlike the great northern abbeys, Croxden enjoyed a rather uneventful 350 years of service. Like every other Cistercian monastery, its revenue came chiefly from sheep-farming and the production of wool. At its height, 70 monks lived here. By the time of the Dissolution, only 12 monks and the abbot remained. Croxden was surrendered to the Crown and dissolved in 1538.
Location: 5 miles NW of Uttoxeter off A522. On Streetmaps: here
Opening hours: Any reasonable time (10am-dusk).
Parking: Small three-car parking bay on roadside.