Dore Abbey, now the parish church of St Mary, was founded in 1147 as a Cistercian abbey with twelve monks who had the task of building a stone church and domestic buildings. The abbey had begun as a group of wooden buildings in the 7-8th centuries. The church had a presbytery, two chapels, two transepts, a crossing and a nave. There was also a 13th century chapter house which no longer exists.
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Money for building the church came from the sale of wool and the abbey land where crops were raised. By the 13th century the church was re-designed in the early English style. The two chapels were done away with to provide space for more chapels, altars, and a walkway.
The abbey was taken over by Henry VIII in 1537 and sold to a private owner. He sold off all the church and building stone resulting in a roofless ruin. In 1630 the great-great grandson of the private owner had the church rebuilt and the roof restored. The medieval altar was discovered at a nearby farm and brought back to the church. An oak screen was placed in the church with the arms of Charles I depicted on it. A porch and new tower were added.
Further restoration took place around 1700. At this time wall paintings were added as was a musicianís gallery. More restoration took place c1900 when the church was downsized to the former presbytery. The parish church now consists of the east end (crossing, transepts, and presbytery) of what was once the abbey. The lychgate still exists. Medieval glass is found in the ambulatory and one chapel. Two 13th century effigies are in the church, as are roof bosses of the same date.
Dore Abbey is in the village of Abbey Dore on the B4347, on the Abergavenny-Hereford road (A465), Herefordshire
Tel. 01873 821 456 for pre-booked conducted tour; clergy and church warden phone numbers in Contact section of their website
Open: daylight hours; service times on website; grounds always open
Parking; special events listed on website
Web: Dore Abbey
Exterior photos © by Barbara Ballard. Other photos courtesy of Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Interior by Philip Halling; screen by Philip Pankhurst