During our recent short break to South Devon we visited Buckfast Abbey.
The whole place is a marvel of the dedication of a small group of Benedictine monks who rebuilt the Abbey Church. The Abbey is built of Ham Hill stone – a honey coloured Jurassic limestone from Somerset, and a local grey limestone. This, below, is from the Abbey’s brochure and website,
The original Abbey was founded in the reign of King Cnut, and in 2018 will celebrate its millennium.
After Henry V111’s dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, the Abbey fell into ruin until 1882 when exiled French Benedictine monks settled at Buckfast. Over thirty years a group of between four and six monks painstakingly rebuilt the Abbey Church, manually hoisting the stones to platforms 150 feet above ground, without helmets or handrails and exposed to the elements.
At first, while funds were low, all the stone had to be cut and dressed by the monks. In later years, they were able to buy the stone ready-dressed from the quarries. Scaffolding was made from wooden poles, lashed together with ropes and chains. Stone was lifted with manual hoists or block and tackle.
Here’s my brief photo montage of our visit,