Buckland Abbey

Buckland Abbey:

Evolving with the Times


Buckland Abbey, a medieval monastery located near Plymouth, has been altered and restored since 1278. It is a fascinating combination of Tudor, Georgian, Elizabethan, and Victorian architecture designs.


The abbey is located in a lovely isolated area in the countryside of Devon, perfect for the Cistercian monks who established the abbey. The Cistercian monks followed a strict and secluded life, focusing on prayer and manual labor. The lands given to the monastery once spread over 20,000 acres. However, the dissolution of Catholic monasteries (1536-1541) divided the lands of the abbey, and 563 of the acres were leased to first George Pollard and then Sir Richard Grenville. Under the Grenvilles, the abbey became an Elizabethan home rather than a place of worship and hard work.


The most famous owner of Buckland Abbey is Sir Francis Drake, who came to possess the abbey in 1580. He lived there for only 15 years, but it remained under the Drake name for 370 years. It finally passed on to Sir Francis Fuller-Elliot-Drake in 1870. After the Second World War, it was sold to Captain Rodd, who gave the abbey to the National Trust in 1949, and since 1951, it has been open to visitors to explore the abbey and its surrounding garden and lands.


Buckland Abbey today is made up of 650 acres of land, on which visitors can explore the abbey, the gardens, the estate, and the museum. To learn about visiting Buckland Abbey, visit the National Trust website here.


Other Digital Devon articles about Buckland Abbey:

The Dutch Connection: Buckland Abbey's Rembrandt

Sir Francis Drake: Pirate, Hero, Both?


Text and photos © Stephanie Fongheiser, 2016


Works Cited

"Buckland Abbey." Historic England. Historic England, 2015. Web. 4 May 2016.

"A journey through time." National Trust. National Trust, n.d. Web. 4 May 2016.


Buckland Abbey