Photoshoot at Titchfield Abbey 2014

The abbey of St Mary and St John the Evangelist was founded in 1232 by Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, for Premonstratensian canons (an order founded at Prémontré in France and known also as the ‘White Canons’).

The abbey owned many thousands of acres of land and had its own farm buildings and a series of fishponds. Titchfield was a good stopping-off place for journeys to the Continent; Richard II and Queen Anne stayed here in 1393 and Henry V was a guest on his way to Southampton to invade France in 1415. On 23rd April 1445 the abbey church was the venue for a royal wedding – the marriage of Henry VI to Margaret of Anjou, celebrated by William Ayscough, Bishop of Salisbury.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the estate passed in 1537 to Thomas Wriothesley, first Earl of Southampton. By 1542 he had converted the monastic buildings into the residence known as Place House. Royal guests to the house included Edward VI, Elizabeth I and Charles I with his queen, Henrietta Maria.

The third Earl of Southampton was a patron of William Shakespeare and it is believed that some of Shakespeare’s plays were performed here for the first time. Place House survived until 1781 when most of the building was demolished for building stone. In the early 20th century archaeological excavations helped to clarify the layout of the monastic buildings, and the abbey plan is marked out on the ground.

The remains of the abbey were purchased by the government in the early 20th century and are now a Scheduled Ancient Monument under the care of English Heritage.

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