Saxon and Savignac Buckfast


The ruins of the Undercroft, the earliest existing remains of an abbey at Buckfast.

  The Saxon Monastery
The original monastery at Buckfast was founded during the reign of King Cnut in 1018. The first Abbey was Benedictine. In comparison with the fifty or so other abbeys in 11th century England, Buckfast was small and unprosperous. The rule of life which they followed was the "Regularis Concordia", drawn up at Winchester in about 970 for all Benedictine monasteries in England as part of re-establishing monastic life. We do not know for sure exactly where the Saxon monastery stood. A site near the river would possibly have been more convenient when one considers the small size of the Abbey. However, as today, there would have been the danger of flooding. During the excavations of the 14th century Guest Hall, a fragment of stone was discovered which may originally have been part of the Saxon church, but no other evidence of the Saxon monastery has so far been found.

Buckfast and the Savignac Rule
For about fifty years after 1086, when the Domesday Book was written, Buckfast's history is obscure, but it seems likely that the house was in decline at this time. Henry I had confirmed the Abbey and its possessions at the beginning of his reign, but in 1136, King Stephen (who was sympathetic to monasteries, establishing and revitalizing many of them during his reign) gave Buckfast to the Abbot of Savigny, who chose a monk from his own monastery to lead a group across the Channel and establish the Savignac rule at Buckfast.It is unknown how the remaining members of the Saxon community took to the new Savignac rule. However, there was soon to be a more drastic change, when Buckfast joined the Cistercian Order in 1147.



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