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Wherwell Abbey

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Wherwell Priory; Werwellam; Warewella

In the civil parish of Wherwell.
In the historic county of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Modern Authority of Hampshire.
1974 county of Hampshire.
Medieval County of Hampshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU39124075
Latitude 51.16469° Longitude -1.44189°

Wherwell Abbey has been described as a Fortified Ecclesiastical site although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a probable Uncertain.

There are no visible remains.

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


Site of a Benedictine nunnery, founded circa 986 and dissolved in 1539, and the probable site of a Saxon minster. None of the buildings associated with the Abbey survive, the site is occupied by 'The Priory', an early-mid 18th century country house. (PastScape)

Provisum est igitur, et communi consilio provisè, ut sibi videbatur, statutum, quantinus penes abbatiam Werwellensem, quae a Ventâ civitate VI. miliariis distabat, trecentis ibi destinatis militibus, castellum construerent, ut scilicet inde et regales faciliùs arcerentur, et ciborum subsidia competentiùs in urbem dirigerentur. Sed regales consultum hujusmodi in malum suum machinatum advertentes, subitò, et insperatè, cum intolerabili multitudine Werwellam advenerunt, fortiterque in eos undique irruentes, captis, et interemptis plurimis, cedere tandem reliquos, et in templum se recipere compulerunt. Cumque vice castelli ad se defendendos templo uterentur, alii, facibus undique injectis semiustulatos eos e templo prodire, et ad votum suum se sibi subdere coegerunt. Erat quidem horrendum, et miserabile videre, quàm impiè, quàm truculenter in templo, pietatis videlicet, et orationis domo, armatorum cunei grassbantur; maximè quia, hic, alterutrim caedes committebantur, illic, captivi loris vinculati abstrahebantur;– hinc incendium templi, et domorum fastigia horribiliter depascebat, indè virginum Deo sacratarum, quae igne urgente suis de claustris invitae prodierant, clamor, et ejulatus altè resonabat. (Sewell - Gesta Stephani)

An attempt to fortify the Benedictine Nunnery in 1140 was prevented. (Renn)

There are some elements of clerical censor in the Gesta Stephani but there is no reason to discount the basic details in the account. Wherwell was a crossing point of the River Test, which was probably more of a barrier before modern drainage turned riverside marsh into meadow and a fort here would improve the security of the royal city of Winchester. The value of the abbey would have been as a place with buildings able to house 300 soldiers and their equipment in relative warmth and dryness rather than as a defensive structure (although the abbey buildings were probably naturally defended by the branches of the Test). Burning the buildings would have much reduced this strategic value.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER       Listing   I. O. E.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:07

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