Buckland Abbey

At Flores in the Azores Sir Richard Grenville lay,
And a pinnace, like a flutter'd bird, came flying from far away.
'Spanish ships of war at sea! we have sighted fifty-three!'

Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Revenge - A Ballad of the Fleet

Buckland Abbey

An unusual stately home in a tranquil location just six miles north of Plymouth, Buckland Abbey is steeped in history. Once the holy home and house of prayer to Cistercian monks, Buckland Abbey would later pass into the hands of two not-so-holy sea-faring adversaries, Sir Richard Grenville and Sir Francis Drake.

Buckland Abbey was a Cistercian monastery founded in this peaceful spot at Dartmoor's edge in 1278. The monastery maintained an affluent, tranquil existence here for over 250 years before Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries. Two years after the Cistercian monks were evicted from their property it was sold to Sir Richard Grenville.

Intending to pass Buckland Abbey on to his son, Roger, Sir Richard Grenville left the property mostly in its original state. Roger Grenville was never to enjoy this benevolence as his life was cut short with the untimely sinking of Henry VIII's favourite flagship, the Mary Rose. However, his son (named Richard after his grandfather) would convert the monastic buildings of Buckland Abbey into a stately home. In a move far ahead of his age, the "undeviatingly Protestant," Sir Richard Grenville decided to convert Buckland Abbey's church into his home. Retaining Buckland Abbey's square tower and much of its intrinsic architectural structure, he inserted three floors and a great hall. A spectacular room, Buckland Abbey's great hall was decorated with bizarre plaster and wooden friezes now deemed by many to be grotesque rather than artistic.

Merely four years after finishing his reconstruction, financial constraint led Sir Richard Grenville to sell Buckland Abbey to his cousin, Sir Francis Drake in 1581. Having succeeded in his circumnavigation of the globe, Drake displayed his wealth buying some 40 properties in the Devon area. Buckland Abbey was just one of these and despite Drake's 14 years of residence here his maritime interests left little time for interior design. Buckland Abbey passed through the hands of the Drake's with little alteration to its interior except for a Georgian dining room and staircase added in 1770. Having maintained a link to Sir Francis Drake for over 350 years, Buckland Abbey passed into the care of the National Trust in 1948 and first opened to the public in 1951.

On your visit to Buckland Abbey, you'll be able to see Drake's Drum, the Drake, Naval and West County Museum and a large and lovely medieval tithe barn. The estate also features country walks, a herb garden planted in the 1950's by Vita Sackville-West and a recently added Elizabethan garden.

Address: Buckland Abbey
Postcode: PL20 6EY
Town/city or near: Yelverton
County: Devon
Adults: 7
Children: 3.5
Opening Times
Open from 25th March to end of October everday except Thursday between 10.30am and 5.30pm. Also open some Saturdays and Sundays in winter. Please check National Trust website for details.
National Trust

7 out of 10 stars (2 votes)

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