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History

Buckfast Abbey was founded by Earl Aylward in the reign of  King Cnut   in 1018. In 1147 it became a Cistercian abbey and was rebuilt in stone. In medieval times, the abbey became rich through fishing and trading in sheep wool, although the  Black Death   killed two abbots and many monks — by 1377 there were only fourteen monks at Buckfast.

On 25 February 1539,  William Petre   arrived at Buckfast and declared the abbey to be dissolved by order of  King Henry VIII . The monks were compelled to leave and the buildings were looted and destroyed. The abbey then stood in ruins for over two hundred years.

On 28 October 1882, six Benedictine monks arrived at Buckfast having been exiled from France. The land had been leased by monks from the St. Augustine's Priory in  Ramsgate and it was later bought for £4,700. The first new abbot was  Boniface Natter , who died at sea in 1906, when the  SS  Sirio   was shipwrecked. His travelling companion  Anscar Vonier   became the next abbot and pledged to fulfil his dying wish, namely to rebuild the abbey.[ 2]

The monks lived among the ruins and gradually rebuilt the abbey church upon the foundations of the abbey constructed in 1147. The church itself was restored between 1905 and 1937. Over the thirty-two years, there were never more than six monks working on the project at any one time, although the whole community had repaired the ancient foundations up to ground level. Construction methods were primitive — wooden scaffolding was held together by ropes and no safety protection was worn by the monks. One monk fell 50 feet but survived; and three monks fell off a hoist without serious injury in 1931. Construction continued throughout  World War I : some of the monks were of German nationality, but were not sent to an internment camp, on condition that they remained confined to the Abbey grounds.

The Abbey was  consecrated   on 25 August 1932, but the building was finally finished with the laying of the last stone in late 1937.

The Abbey is self-supporting, with a farm where vegetables are grown and bees, pigs and cattle are kept, a shop which sells wine, honey beeswax, fudge and other items made by religious communities throughout the world, and a gift shop, book shop, and restaurant.

 

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckfast_Abbey

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