Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

The date of the foundation of the monastery of Our Lady of Buckfast, two miles from Ashburton, England, in a beautiful Devonshire valley watered by the Dart, is unknown; but it was certainly long before the Norman Conquest. The eartiest authentic document is a grant by King Canute (1015-1035), to the monks of Buckfast of the manor of Sele, now called Zeal Monachorum. The best authorities assign the foundation to the middle of the tenth century. Early in the twelfth century it was incorporated into the Benedictine Congregation of savigny, founded in Normandy in 1112. In 1148, five years before the death of St. Bernard, the thirty Savigny houses, including Buckfast (of which Eustace was then abbot ) were affiliated to Clairvaux, thus becoming a part of the great Cistercian Order . Buckfast now developed into one of the most important monasteries in the great Diocese of Exeter. It flourished both materially and spiritually originating the celebrated woollen trade of the district encouraging other industries, and preserving unimpaired its discipline and the fervour of its observance. The latter, however, became relaxed (as in other Cistercian houses) in the fourteenth century, one result being the rapid diminution in the community. The reputation, however, of the monks for learning was sustained until the dissolution, and they seem to have been generally beloved in the district for their piety, kindliness, and benevolence.

The last legitimately elected Abbot of Buckfast was John Rede, who died about 1535, the year of the Visitation ordered by Henry VIII, which resulted in the intrusion of Gabriel Donne into the vacant chair. Donne surrendered the house to the King in 1538, receiving for himself ample compensation. The buildings were immediately sold, the lead stripped from the roof, and the monastery and church left to decay. In 1882, about three centuries and a half after the suppression of the Cistercian Abbey, the ruined building came again into the possession of Benedictine monks, belonging to the French province of the Cassinese Congregation of the Primitive Observance. Mass was again said and the Divine Officechanted at Buckfast on 29 October, 1882, and eight months later the Abbey was legally conveyed to the monks.

The plan of the buildings at Buckfast followed the conventional Cistercian arrangement, with the cloister south of the church, and grouped round it the chapter-house, calefactory, refectory, and other loca regularia . The church was 220 feet long, with short transcripts, each with a small eastern chapel. The Benedictines now in possession have built a temporary church, and are proceeding with the work of rebuilding the former one, and the rest of the monastic buildings, on the ancient foundations. The tower which still remains was been carefully restored, and the southern wing of the monastery has been rebuilt in simple twelfth-century style, and was opened in April, 1886. The third abbot since the return of the monks in 1882, Dom Anscher Vouier, formerly one of the professors at the Benedictine University of St. Anselm in Rome, was solemnly blessed by the Bishop of Plymouth in October, 1906.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:7-16
7 On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in whatever way Christ ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they said to me, 'Let us go ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:1-9
1 It was just about this time that some people arrived and told him about ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 22nd, 2016 Image

St. Pope John Paul II
October 22: Karol J. Wojtyla, known as John Paul II since his ... Read More