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Cistercian Abbey of Waverley

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Situated in Surrey, near Farnham, founded by William Gifford, Bishop of Winchester, on 24 Nov., 1124, was the second daughter of L Aumone, in Normandy, and the first monastery of the Order of Cîteaux in England. This claim to priority of establishment is sometimes disputed in favour of the Abbey of Furness, but though Furness was actually founded three or four years before Waverley, yet it was then a daughter of Savigny, and was not affiliated to the Cistercian Order until the year 1147. Bishop William endowed it with large possessions and, along with many other ecclesiastics and nobles, granted it numerous privileges which were confirmed and even increased by Henry de Blois, brother of King Stephen and successor of William in the episcopal office. The first century of its existence was the golden age for Waverley, in which period it founded six monasteries and, despite the number of its members thus sent away, it had 70 choir religious and 120 lay brothers in 1190. In 1201 the abbey suffered from an inundation; so that in 1203 the foundations for a new church were laid, and for a new monastery also, but on higher ground. This church was not opened until 1231, when it was dedicated with great solemnity. In 1225 Henry III visited the abbey and, at his own request, was granted an honorary membership in the community. Waverley now became less and less important, until at the time of its suppression by Henry VIII (1536) it contained but thirteen religious. After the dissolution the property passed through various hands, becoming with each change more desolate; the cloister was still standing in 1673, at the present time nothing but the bare site of Waverley remains.

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