Buckland Abbey

Buckland Abbey

  • Home of Elizabethan seafarer Sir Francis Drake
  • The last Cistercian foundation in England
  • Secluded location in beautiful Tavy Valley
  • Regular programme of events and historical re-enactments

Almost as peaceful now as it would have been some 700 years ago when the Cistercian monks settled in this undisturbed valley at the edge of Dartmoor, Buckland Abbey encompasses both architectural and historical interest as well as idyllic gardens for relaxation.

By 1541 Henry VIII had sold the old monastery to Sir Richard Grenville as a reward for his services as Marshal of Calais. After creating his home, Grenville remained there for only four years before he mortgaged Buckland Abbey, eventually selling the property to Sir Francis Drake when he returned from his successful circumnavigation of the globe.

Drake was richly rewarded for his Spanish exploits on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I, and Buckland was just one of about 40 properties purchased by him in the county. Between his numerous sea voyages, Drake remained at Buckland Abbey for 14 years but never really stamped his own personality on this strange country mansion. In 1988 Simon Whistler was commissioned to create four beautiful engraved glass panels to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Spanish Armada´s defeat, and these have been set in the windows of the stair well.

The hall where Sir Francis planned the tactics that defeated the Spanish Armada is also the fitting home for Drake´s Drum. The age-worn drum, with his coat of arms painted on one side, was with Sir Francis on his circumnavigation of the world and when he died of dysentery off Panama in 1596. It is said to sound if England is ever in danger.

Next to the house is a picturesque group of granite outbuildings. These include an ox-shed introduced by William Marshall, the agricultural improver, who spent four years at Buckland Abbey between 1791-4. With in a few yards of the house is a heavily buttressed, medieval tithe barn. At almost 160 feet long the monastic barn is one of the largest in Britain and reflects the wealth of the Cisterician abbey.

For places to stay in Devon, as a base from which to visit Buckland Abbey and the surrounding area, please see: Country House Hotels in Devon , Coastal Hotels in Devon , Spa Hotels in Devon , Bed & Breakfasts in Devon or Self-Catering Cottages in Devon

NT shop and plant sales. Independent craft workshops. Guesthouse restaurant/tea-room (licensed) in the 13th-century Monks Guesthouse. Serving lunches, snacks and refreshments, March–Oct. Restricted menu, Nov-Feb. Open Dec for booked Christmas lunches. Children´s menu.

Photo Credits:

NTPL/Andrew Butler

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