Bayham Abbey, East Sussex

The impressive ruins, built from golden local Wealden sandstone, include much of the 13th to 15th-century church, the chapter house, and a picturesque 14th-century gatehouse. The ruins were incorporated into an idealized landscape in the 18th century.

The ruins of Bayham Abbey, a Premonstratensian Abbey, were established from the union between the two Premonstratensian abbeys of Otham and Brockley. Excavations carried out in 1973-6 have indicated the building sequence of the abbey. The main monastic buildings date to the 13th century and the church was extended in the late 13th century. The gatehouse was added in the 14th century. In 1525, the abbey was dissolved by Cardinal Wolsey to create funds for Wolsey’s college foundations at Oxford and Ipswich. Around 1800, the ruins were in poor condition and some buttresses were added to the Nave South wall and formed part of a romanticized landscape based on the ideas of the architect William Wilkins and landscape designer Humphrey Repton.

A number of monastic remains have survived as ruins including parts of the church, cloister, chapter house, dormitory and gatehouse. There are remains of other buildings associated with the abbey including the infirmary, water-mill, Brewhouse, bake house, barns, stables and stores. Nearby are remains of a mill-leat, fishponds and small agricultural plots which provided at least some of the produce necessary to support the monks.

The abbey ruins are under the guardianship of English Heritage.

Martin Ashley supervised in the stabilisation of ruined masonry from ground level up to the top of the arches of the Nave, where defective cement topping was replaced with lime mortar. Unstable projecting stonework was supported with new stainless brackets, together with extensive pinning of cracked elements. Mortar topping was applied to prevent water traps and to improve drainage.