Quarr Abbey

Quarr Abbey (French: Abbaye Notre-Dame de Quarr) is a monastery between the villages of Binstead and Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight in southern England. The name is pronounced as "Kwor" (rhyming with "for"). It belongs to the Catholic Order of St Benedict.

The Grade I listed listed monastic buildings and church, completed in 1912, are considered some of the most important twentieth-century religious structures in the United Kingdom; Sir Nikolaus Pevsner described the Abbey as "among the most daring and successful church buildings of the early 20th century in England". They were constructed from Belgian brick in a style combining French, Byzantine and Moorish architectural elements. In the vicinity are a few remains of the original twelfth-century abbey.[1]

A community of fewer than a dozen monks maintains the monastery's regular life and the attached farm. As of 2013, the community provides two-month internships for young men.[2]

1912-rebuilt Quarr Abbey


Ruins of old Quarr Abbey, Isle of Wight, UK
Ruins of the old abbey
"The Remains of Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight, Hants. The Property of John Fleming Esq." Engraving by Richard Godfrey of Long Acre, c. 1780. Published in Worsley, Sir Richard, History of the Isle of Wight, London 1781

Cistercian monastery

St. Mary's Abbey at Quarr was part of the Cistercian Order and was founded in 1132 by Baldwin de Redvers, 1st Earl of Devon, fourth Lord of the Isle of Wight.[3] The founder was buried in the Abbey in 1155, and his remains, along with those of a royal princess, Cecily of York (died 1507), second daughter of King Edward IV of England and godmother of Henry VIII, still lie on the site of the mediaeval monastery, as do other important personages. Arreton Manor was part of the abbey from the 12th century until 1525.

The name Quarr comes from 'quarry', because there used to be a stone quarry in the neighbourhood. The original title of the monastery was the Abbey of our Lady of the Quarry. Stone from the quarry was used in the Middle Ages for both ecclesiastical and military buildings, for example for parts of the Tower of London.

This site became a valuable and productive property. Because of this, it was the tradition for the abbot to be appointed warden or lord of the island. The prevalence of piracy in the area led to the granting in 1340 of special permission to fortify the area against attack. A stone wall, sea gate and portcullis were constructed. The ruins of these defences are still visible.

Secular ownership

Quarr Abbey c1910 - Project Gutenberg eText 17296
Former Quarr Abbey House, c. 1910

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536, the land was acquired by a Southampton merchant, George Mills who demolished most of the abbey. Its stone was used for fortifications at the nearby towns of Cowes and Yarmouth.

One of the three abbey bells is preserved in the belfry of the nearby Anglican parish church, originally built by the monks of Quarr Abbey for their lay dependants. Salvaged stone was also used to build Quarr Abbey House.[4]

Modern abbey

Exile of Solesmes

A nineteenth-century French law banned religious orders except by special dispensation, though its application varied with changes of government. As a precaution, Abbot Paul Delatte (1848–1937) of the Benedictine Solesmes Abbey had sent a monk to England to look for a house to shelter the community. A crisis came in 1880, when congregations were ordered to apply for authorisation within three months. Although this was at first brutally enforced against men's communities, protests resulted in gradual abandonment of the measures. Congregations were reconstituted. On 1 July 1901, however, tolerance towards religious communities came to an end with the passing of a new law.

The founder of Solesmes, Prosper Guéranger, had originally thought of England as a possible place of refuge should the community have to go into exile. Moreover, since 1896, at the invitation of the former Empress Eugénie, the Solesmes Benedictines had taken over as a priory the former Premonstratensian house of Farnborough Abbey, which sheltered the tomb of Napoleon III.

Appuldurcombe House

Finally, at the end of July, attention was drawn to a suitable 'large house on the Isle of Wight which seems to meet the requirements of the monks', Appuldurcombe House near Wroxall on the Isle of Wight.[5] The house was viewed and accepted, and a lease contract was signed on 19 August 1901. A former monastic site, the construction of the house had been begun in 1701 by Sir Robert Worsley on the site of a Tudor manor house and completed much later (1773) by Sir Richard Worsley who, from 1787, also established there what was to become a well-known art collection. On the death of Sir Richard in 1805, the estate passed to his niece, who was married to the Second Baron and first Earl of Yarborough. The family connection with the house ended in 1855, when the estate was sold off by her son, the Second Earl of Yarborough.

The monks wasted no time in beginning their transfer from Solesmes to the Isle of Wight and, on Saturday 21 September 1901, practically the entire community of Solesmes reached Appuldurcombe.

New abbey on site of Quarr Abbey House

Quarr Abbey

The first monks arrived at Quarr Abbey House from Appuldurcombe on 25 June 1907 to prepare the grounds and the beginnings of a kitchen garden. They also put up fencing around the property, established a chicken farm and planted an orchard.

One of the monks, Dom Paul Bellot, aged 31, was an architect. He designed and draughted plans for the new abbey, incorporating and extending Quarr Abbey House, some distance from the ruins of the medieval monastery.[6] 300 workers from the Isle of Wight, accustomed to building only dwelling-houses, raised a building whose design and workmanship is admired by all who visit the Abbey. The building of the refectory and three sides of the cloister began in 1907 and was completed inside one year. The rest of the monks came from Appuldurcombe and, in April 1911, work began on the Abbey church which was quickly completed and consecrated on 12 October 1912. It was built with tall pointed towers of glowing Flemish brick, adding a touch of Byzantium to the skyline. The monastic buildings are considered some of the most important twentieth-century religious structures in the United Kingdom.[3]

In 1922, after World War I, the community of Solesmes returned to France. A small community of monks was left at Quarr which, from being a priory of Solesmes, became in 1937 an independent abbey, with English monks recruited to the community.

With a shrinking community and ageing buildings the World Monuments Fund identified Quarr Abbey as one of the 100 most endangered historic sites in the world. In July 2012 the Heritage Lottery fund awarded Quarr a £1.9 million matching grant. The project includes repair and conservation of the abbey remains and existing abbey church, as well as a visitor information centre and education and training placements in construction for local college students.[7] In the Bellot Abbey, repairs will be carried out to remedy rain penetration.[8]

In July 2013, the Abbey hosted a Chant Forum, a five-day course on early polyphony and Gregorian Chant.


  • Dom Marie-Gabriel Tissot, OSB, Abbot 1937 - 1964
  • Dom Aelred Sillem, OSB, Abbot 1964 - 1992
  • Dom Leo Avery, OSB, Abbot 1992 - 1996
  • Dom Cuthbert Johnson, OSB, Abbot Aug 1996 - March 2008[9]
  • Dom Finbar Kealy, OSB, Prior Administrator 2008 - 2013
  • Dom Xavier Perrin, OSB, was appointed as Prior Administrator in May 2013, having previously held the position of Prior at Kergonan Abbey, Brittany. He was elected Abbot by the community in the presence of the Abbot of Solesmes on 11 May 2016.

In literature

Tony Hendra devotes much of his 2004 memoir, Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul, to his experiences at Quarr Abbey.

In his 1929 memoir, Good-Bye to All That, Robert Graves describes visiting Quarr Abbey whilst recovering on the Isle of Wight during the Great War. The fresh grains, vegetables and fruits at the Abbey helped change Graves' previously held negative views of Catholicism.


  1. ^ Historic England, "Quarr Abbey (1235008)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 14 September 2017
  2. ^ Greaves, Mark (2 February 2013). "Two months as a monk". The Spectator. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Quarr Abbey" World Monuments Fund
  4. ^ Some of the medieval monastic ruins have been restored. A farm operates on part of the land.
  5. ^ "Tragedy, scandal and wealth – the story of one great house". Isle of Wight County Press. Archived from the original on 5 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  6. ^ Horsford, Simon. "Isle of Wight: The sound of silence at Quarr Abbey", Telegraph, 7 February 2011
  7. ^ Neville, Martin. "Lottery windfall for Island heritage", Isle of Wight County Press, 11 July 2012
  8. ^ Corcoran, Gregory. "Preparing for the Future at Quarr Abbey", WMF Journal, 21 May 2013 Archived 2013-08-20 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Abbot of Quarr retires". Archived from the original on 24 March 2008. Retrieved 24 March 2008.


  • S.F. Hockey, Quarr Abbey and Its Lands, 1132–1631, Leicester University Press, 1970.

External links

  • Official website Quarr Abbey A Catholic Benedictine Monastry
  • ‹The template Images of England is being considered for merging.› 

Historic England. "Quarr Abbey - Grade II (411110)". Images of England.

  • ‹The template Images of England is being considered for merging.› 

Historic England. "Old Quarr Abbey ruins - Grade II (411102)". Images of England.

  • ‹The template Images of England is being considered for merging.› 

Historic England. "Old Quarr Abbey walls - Grade II (411103)". Images of England.

Coordinates: 50°43′52″N 1°11′59″W / 50.7310°N 1.1996°W

Appuldurcombe House

Appuldurcombe House (also spelt Appledorecombe or Appledore Combe) is the shell of a large 18th-century baroque country house of the Worsley family. The house is situated near to Wroxall on the Isle of Wight, England. It is now managed by English Heritage and is open to the public. A small part of the 300-acre (1.2 km2; 0.47 sq mi) estate that once surrounded it is still intact, but other features of the estate are still visible in the surrounding farmland and nearby village of Wroxall, including the entrance to the park, the Freemantle Gate, now used only by farm animals and pedestrians.

Arreton Manor

Arreton Manor is a manor house in Arreton, Isle of Wight, England. Its history is traced to 872 AD to the time of King Alfred the Great and his parents. It was left by King Alfred by his will to his youngest son Aethelweard. Once owned by William the Conqueror, as mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086, in the 12th century it became part of Quarr Abbey and was used by the monks for over 400 years. In 1525 it was leased to the Leigh family. The manor was rebuilt between 1595 and 1612. Built in Jacobean style, it is in the shape of a "H". It is also widely known on the Isle of Wight in folklore for its paranormal activity, particularly the ghost of a young girl named Annabelle Leigh who was murdered at the manor by her own brother in 1560.

Baldwin de Redvers, 1st Earl of Devon

Baldwin de Redvers, 1st Earl of Devon (died 4 June 1155), feudal baron of Plympton in Devon, was the son of Richard de Redvers and his wife Adeline Peverel.

He was one of the first to rebel against King Stephen, and was the only first rank magnate never to accept the new king. He seized Exeter, and was a pirate out of Carisbrooke, but he was driven out of England to Anjou, where he joined the Empress Matilda. She made him Earl of Devon after she established herself in England, probably in early 1141.He founded several monasteries, notably those of Quarr Abbey (1131), in the Isle of Wight, a priory at Breamore, Hampshire, and the Priory of St James, at Exeter. Some monastic chronicles call his father also Earl of Devon, but no contemporary record uses the title, including the monastic charters.

Carisbrooke Priory

Carisbrooke Priory was an alien priory, a dependency of Lyre Abbey in Normandy. The priory was situated on rising ground on the outskirts of Carisbrooke close to Newport on the Isle of Wight.

In April 1993, the recently formed Carisbrooke Priory Trust purchased the freehold of the then St Dominic's Priory, Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight, the home of a Catholic Community of nuns since the house was first built on the medieval site in 1866.

Cecily of York

Cecily of York, Viscountess Welles (20 March 1469 – 24 August 1507) was an English princess and the third, but eventual second surviving, daughter of Edward IV, King of England and his queen consort Elizabeth Woodville, daughter of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. She was First Lady of the Bedchamber to the queen in 1485–1487.

Combley Manor

Combley Manor is a manor house on the Isle of Wight, situated in the parish of Arreton. It lies in the low ground to the north of Arreton Down, and mostly consists of woodland and pasture. Its first appearance is in a deed (c. 1230) between its then owner Simon Fitz Hubert and the convent of Quarr exchanging it for the somewhat insignificant holding of Blackland. It remained in the possession of Quarr Abbey until its dissolution, but does not appear as a manor till quite late in the 15th century; indeed, in the valuation of Quarr Abbey lands in 1536 it is entered as 'a farm called Combley in Atherton parish.' In February 1537 Combley, called a manor, was granted in fee to Thomas Wriothesley, and it subsequently followed the same descent as Haseley.

Fishbourne, Isle of Wight

Fishbourne is a village between Wootton and Ryde, on the Isle of Wight.

The name "Fishbourne" might mean "stream of fish" or "fish spring."It is positioned on the eastern bank of Wootton Creek, and includes the terminal for the Wightlink car ferry from Portsmouth.

Fishbourne, together with the adjoining Kite Hill area, became a civil parish in 2006 and has a parish council. The parish includes the ruined Norman abbey (founded 1132) and the Benedictine monastery including Quarr Abbey (founded in the early 1900s).

The Royal Victoria Yacht Club and the 'Fishbourne Inn' are located near the ferry terminal.

Public transport is provided by Southern Vectis bus routes 4 and 9, which stop on the main road, and operate to East Cowes, Newport and Ryde.

George Frederick James Temple

Dom George Frederick James Temple FRS OSB (born 2 September 1901, London; died 30 January 1992, Isle of Wight) was an English mathematician, recipient of the Sylvester Medal in 1969. He was President of the London Mathematical Society in the years 1951-1953.Temple took his first degree as an evening student at Birkbeck College, London, between 1918 and 1922, and also worked there as a research assistant. In 1924 he moved to Imperial College as a demonstrator, where he worked under the direction of Sydney Chapman. After a period spent with Eddington at Cambridge, he returned to Imperial as reader in mathematics. He was appointed professor of mathematics at King's College London in 1932, where he returned after war service with the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough. In 1953 he was appointed Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Oxford, a chair which he held until 1968, and in which he succeeded Chapman. He was also an honorary Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford.

After the death of his wife in 1980, Temple, a devout Christian, took monastic vows in the Benedictine order and entered Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight, where he remained until his death.

Henry de Botebrigge

Henry de Botebrigge or Henry of Budbridge (died c.1331) was a 13th-14th century abbot in the Isle of Wight. He was the Abbot of Quarr Abbey and once held the Great Budbridge Manor. His heir was Robert de Botebrigge, reported to have become heir in 1331 when he requested a grant.

Leo Avery

Leo Avery (5 January 1938 - 4 July 1996) was third Abbot of Quarr Abbey, on the Isle of Wight, from 1992 to 1996.

List of monastic houses on the Isle of Wight

The following is a list of monastic houses on the Isle of Wight in England.

Alien houses are included, as are smaller establishments such as cells and notable monastic granges (particularly those with resident monks), and also camerae of the military orders of monks (Knights Templars and Knights Hospitaller). The numerous monastic hospitals per se are not included here unless at some time the foundation had, or was purported to have the status or function of an abbey, priory, friary or preceptor/commandery.

The name of the county is given where there is reference to an establishment in another county. Where the county has changed since the foundation's dissolution the modern county is given in parentheses, and in instances where the referenced foundation ceased to exist before the unification of England, the kingdom is given, followed by the modern county in parentheses.

== Abbreviations and key ==

Locations with names in italics indicate probable duplication (misidentification with another location) or non-existent foundations (either erroneous reference or proposed foundation never implemented) or ecclesiastical establishments with a monastic appellation but lacking monastic connection.

The following location on the Isle of Wight lacks monastic connection:

Chale Abbey: a farm

== Related articles ==

Marie-Gabriel Tissot

Marie-Gabriel Tissot (1886 - 1983), in 1937 become the first Abbot of Quarr Abbey, England in modern times.

Quarr Abbey House

The Quarr Abbey House was one of several houses constructed along the north coast of the Isle of Wight in southern England. Built in the 19th century from the ruins of a Norman abbey, it was a residence of the Cochrane family and was later incorporated into the new Quarr Abbey monastery that was built on the site.

St Cross Priory

St Cross Priory was an alien priory in Newport on the Isle of Wight, England. It was founded in about 1120 by monks from the Benedictine Abbey of Tiron. It was dissolved in 1391 when the priory was ceded to Winchester College. Thereafter, the buildings were repaired and a new water mill wheel was bought. Only ruins remain. The nearby St Cross Mill is a 19th-century structure built on the foundations of the monastic mill.

St Helen's Priory, Isle of Wight

St Helen's Priory was a priory in the Isle of Wight, England.

St Mary's Priory, Carisbrooke

St Mary's Priory, Carisbrooke was a priory in the Isle of Wight, England.


Staplers ( STAP-lərz) is a suburb of Newport, Isle of Wight, England, on the east side of the River Medina.

It was previously part of Arreton Manor and a grange of Quarr Abbey. Maps from the nineteenth century show the hamlets of Staplers, North Staplers and Little Staplers, as well as the geographic features Staplers Hill, Staplers Heath and Staplers Copse, as well as Staplers Turnpike and Staplers Farm.It houses the Crown Offices which discharge the principal functions of national government on the Isle of Wight such as the Department for Work and Pensions. There is a pub called "The Princess Royal".

Transport is provided by Southern Vectis bus routes 8 and 9.

Staplers also has a large housing estate consisting of mainly bungalows and 3 bedroom houses, situated on Cynthia Grove, Fairmount Drive, Mayfield Drive, Bellecroft Drive, Oak Road, Greenfields Road, Cooper Road, Cook Avenue and Atkinson Drive. 'Polars' nursing home is situated in Staplers Road.

Thomas John Cochrane

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Thomas John Cochrane (5 February 1789 – 19 October 1872) was a Royal Navy officer. After serving as a junior officer during the French Revolutionary Wars, he captured the French ship Favourite off the coast of Dutch Guiana and then took part in various actions including the capture of the Virgin Islands from Danish forces, the capture of the French island of Martinique and the capture of the French archipelago of Îles des Saintes during the Napoleonic Wars. He also took part in the burning of Washington and the attack on Baltimore during the War of 1812.

Cochrane went on to serve as colonial governor of Newfoundland and then as Member of Parliament for Ipswich before becoming Commander-in-Chief, East Indies and China Station and then Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth.

Ventnor Priory

Ventnor Priory was a priory in the Isle of Wight, England.

Unitary authorities
Major settlements
Dominican Order
Tironensian Order


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.