Sawtry Cistercian Abbey of St Mary


The Abbey was founded in 1147 by Simon De St Liz, Earl of Huntingdon and grandson of Countess Judith of Lens, niece of William the Conqueror. It took 91 years to complete and was consecrated in 1238. There are records of monarchs staying there during its time and notably Catherine of Aragon's body rested there when the funeral cortege broke its journey on the way to Peterborough Cathedral from Kimbolton Castle for her burial. The Monks were very benevolent to the villagers of Sawtry and provided care to the poor, sick and elderly of the village. When the Abbey was dissolved at the hands of Henry V111 and his henchman Thomas Cromwell in 1536 the village suffered a great loss as a result. This spiritual and physical support that the Monks gave, was important for the village to thrive and it also provided jobs to the villagers by working on the Grange Farms, one being the site of Sawtry Judith Manor near Archers Wood  . This, in addition to the estates that took over when the Abbey was dissolved, provided Sawtry and the villages around with its agricultural background and heritage. Following the dissolution in 1536, the church, buildings, gate-house, bell tower and even the old parish church of Sawtry Judith were demolished. Stone was removed from the site as late as the 19th century. Excavations took place between 1907 and 1913. The layout of most of the abbey was recovered. The church was cruciform with short transepts and choir. The cloisters were located to the south and to their East was an infirmary or Abbots lodging. A guest house was situated south-west of the cloister. The earthworks were resurveyed and are well preserved. The site has been scheduled since 1954. It is the only Cistercian Abbey site in Cambridgeshire.

British History Online - Sawtry Abbey

Historic England - Sawtry Abbey