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Grey Abbey Church
 

County

Down

Coordinates

N 54° 32' 12.5"   W 005° 33' 18.1"

Nearest town

Greyabbey

Grid Ref.

J 58003 68140

Map No.

15

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

13

Date of visit

Tuesday 7 June 2011

GPS Accuracy (m)

9
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The remains of the abbey as seen from the car park.


We came here for the first time on September 12th, 2003, on a nice sunny day. This time it was cold and rainy. This condition let us down a little and detracted a lot from this magnificent place. The graveyard of the church is packed with grave slabs. They are so close each other that I wonder how they managed to dig a grave without disturbing the adjacent burial, or one might wonder if the dead were buried standing rather than lying.
Grey Abbey was founded in 1193 by Affreca, John de Courcy's wife, as a daughter house of Holmcultram Abbey in Cumbria. The abbey was given to the Cistercian order. It had declined by the late Middle Ages and was dissolved in 1541. In the early 17th century it was granted to Sir Hugh Montgomery and the nave was refurbished and used for parish worship until the late 18th century.
Most of the complex is missing. What we can see today is the abbey itself, with its long nave. The west door is the most amazing part of the building. The Cistercian order lived upon a simple lifestyle and no fancy decorations adorned their buildings. The chancel has 6 lancet windows, and there are the traces of the two transepts. To the south of the chancel departed a lower building that included a chapter house and a day room. Opposite from the church was the refectory and the kitchen. Another building stood at the west end of the complex. Enclosed by these four buildings was the cloister, but no trace of it survives today.


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