Athelney Abbey, established in the county of Somerset, England, was founded by King Alfred in 888, as a religious house for monks of the Order of St. Benedict. It was dedicated to "Our Blessed Saviour, St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. Egelwine".
|Location||Athelney, Somerset, England|
Originally Athelney was a small island in swampland, in what is now the parish of East Lyng, covered with alders and infested by wild animals. It was inaccessible except by boat, according to William of Malmesbury. Here Alfred the Great found a refuge from the Danes; here he built the abbey. The dedication to St. Æthelwine suggests that it may have been an enlargement of a hermitage or monastery already in existence. He peopled it with foreign monks, drawn chiefly from France, with John the Old Saxon (known as Scotus) as their abbot. The original church was a small structure, consisting of four piers supporting the main fabric and surrounded by four circular chancels. The original charter from Alfred still exists.
From the 11th century up to the time of its dissolution the monks of Glastonbury Abbey attempted to annex it or have it placed under the Glastonbury jurisdiction. The abbey also appears in the Domesday book, and the Taxatio of 1291. In 1267, Henry III granted the abbey a weekly market on Mondays. However, it was not a rich community. An indulgence of thirty days was given in 1321 for those who should assist in the rebuilding of the church, and the monks humbly petitioned Edward I of England to remit corrody for which they were unable to find the means of payment. The last abbot was Robert Hamlyn. With eight monks of his community, he surrendered February 8, 1540, receiving a pension of £50 per annum and retaining his prebend of Long Sutton. The revenues (26 Hen. VII) were £209. 0s. 3/4 d. Both the 1267 charter of Henry III, and latter Henry VII also still exist.
- John, the 'Old Saxon,' temp.
- Seignus, occurs 937 
- Alfric, occurs 1007
- Athelwin, occurs 1020–5 
- Ralph Maledoctus, occurs 1125 
- Simon, occurs 1135 
- Benedict I, occurs 1159 
- Roger I, 1174–92 
- Benedict II, 1198–1227
- Roger II, elected 1227 
- Robert, elected 1245 occurs 1263 
- Osmund de Reigny 
- Richard de Derham, occurs 1267 
- Andrew de Sancto Fonte, 1280–1300 
- Osmund de Sowi, 1300–25 
- Robert de Ile, 1325 
- Richard de Gothurst or Cotehurst, 1341–9
- John Stoure, 23 September–22 October 1349
- Robert de Hache, elected 1349
- John Hewish, 1390 
- John Brygge, 1399
- John Petherton, 1424
- Robert Hylle(Hill), 1458  & 1462 
- Robert de Patient, 1481 
- John George, 1485 & 1498
- John Wellington, 1503 
- Richard Wraxall
- John Herte, 1518
- Thomas Sutton, 1527
- John Maior, 1531
- Robert Hamlyn or Hamblyn, 1533–9
- Robert Hamblyn, 1534
- Richard Wells 1539
Following the dissolution it was acquired for use as a private residence by Lord Audley who had the church demolished. Audley's plans never eventuated and records show that on 17 August 1544 Audley sold the abbey to John Clayton, for £182 15s. and in April 1545 Clayton obtained a licence to sell it to John Tynbere. In 1674 further demolition work occurred by labourers of the then landowner, Captain John Hucker. In this work, excavations dug-up the bases of the pillars of the church and also revealed graves, one being 8-foot in length.
With the church demolished and other buildings fallen into disrepair, nothing visible remains at the site today. Several geophysical surveys have been carried out to explore the remains which still exist below ground level. Today the site of the Abbey is marked by King Alfred's Monument which is a Grade II listed building, and Scheduled Ancient Monument. The monument was built in 1801 by Sir John Slade of Maunsel House, who owned Athelney farm.
- Havinden, Michael. The Somerset Landscape. The making of the English landscape. London: Hodder and Stoughton. p. 94. ISBN 0-340-20116-9.
- "The abbey of Athelney". British History Online. Retrieved 12 August 2008.
- Somers. Rec. Soc. Publ. xiv, 126.
- Somers. Rec. Soc. Publ. xiv, 126. From: 'Houses of Benedictine monks: The abbey of Athelney', A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 2 (1911), pp. 99-103.
- Chart R. 52 Hen. III, m. 11, no. 147.
- 'Houses of Benedictine monks: The abbey of Athelney', A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 2 (1911), pp. 99-103.
- Muchelney Abbey, Two Cartularies of the Benedictine Abbeys of Muchelney and Athelney in the County of Somerset, Volume 14 General Books LLC, 2009.
- Alfred Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.) i, 206.
- Somers. Rec. Soc. Publ. xiv, charter 64.
- Somers. Rec. Soc. Publ. xiv, charter 57.
- Somers. Rec. Soc. Publ. xiv, charter 26.
- Som. Rec. Soc. Publ. xiv, 61.
- Som. Rec. Soc. Publ. xiv, 116.
- Somers. Rec. Soc. Publ. xiv, charter 202; Cal. Pat. loc.
- Somers. Rec. Soc. Publ. xiv, charters 24 and 78.
- Henry III, charter 241.
- Temp. Hen. III, charter 106.
- 523Cal. Pat. 1272–81, p. 368.
- 523Cal. Pat. 1324–7, p.86.
- 527Cal. Pat. 1324–7, pp. 88, 109
- Drokensford's Reg. (Somers. Rec. Soc.) i, 243.
- Cal. Pat. 1340–3, p. 253.
- R. of Shrewsbury's Reg. (Somers. Rec. Soc. x).
- Somers. Rec. Soc. Publ. xiv; Cal. Pat. 1388–92, pp. 312, 318.
- Pat. 23 Ricard II, m 7; Cal. Wells D. and C. MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.) i, 303.
- Wells Epis. Reg. Stillington.
- Wells Epis. Reg. Beckington, fol. 244.
- "Manumission.  Robert de Patient, abbot of the monastery of Athelney, Soms.  Thomas Ayleward, son of Peter Ayleward, once of Leaye, Soms.  manumits and frees . [Druitt page 92]. 21 Edw IV. [4 Jun 1481]". Dorset History Centre archive catalogue. Dorset History Centre. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- Cat. of Seals B.M., 2570, lxxi, 44.
- Wells Epis. Reg. King, fol. 140.
- Cat. of Seals B.M., 2571, lxxi, 46.
- Cat. of Seals B.M., 2572, lxxi, 45.
- Orig. R. 36 Henry VIII, vol. 100, fol. 3.
- Orig. R. 36 Hen. VIII, vol. 60, fol. 6.
- "Back to Our Roots". Time Team. Series 10. Episode 8. 23 February 2003. Event occurs at 28:46. Channel 4.
- "Athelney Abbey". South West Heritage Trust. Retrieved 12 August 2008.
- "Athelney Abbey". Somerset Historic Environment Record. South West Heritage Trust. Retrieved 12 August 2008.
- Historic England. "King Alfred's Monument with railings (1173838)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 February 2007.
- "King Alfred's Monument". Listed Buildings Online. English Heritage. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
- Byford, Enid (1987). Somerset Curiosities. Dovecote Press. pp. 106–107. ISBN 0946159483.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "The Abbey of Athelney". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. The entry cites: