History of The Abbey

The Augustinian monastery of Darley Abbey has a rather confused foundation. In 1154, Robert de Ferrers, 2nd Earl of Derby made a donation to St Helen's Priory, Derby for them to establish a new religious house. He donated the churches of Uttoxeter and Crich, an oratory and cemetery at Osmaston, and tithes from his property in Derby and land inOddebrook and Aldwark. A new monastery however was not constructed, as no suitable location was identified.

Around 1160, Hugh, the rural dean of Derby, donated his land at "Little Darley" to St Helen's Priory for the establishment of the monastery.

Darley Abbey was a daughter establishment to St Helen's Priory, however, shortly after its establishment, many of the canons of the Priory transferred to Darley, St Helen's serving as a hospital.

Between 1250 and 1252 Ralph, son of Ralph de Wistanton, made numerous donations to the abbey, even though he was a man described as "of quite limited resources". The reason was that by donating to the abbey, Ralph could deprive the Jewish money-lenders of what he owed them, as Jews could not seize church property. Ralph eventually signed over all of his positions to the abbey; the abbey in return provided him, his wife Joan, and their sons John and Nicholas, with food, clothing and "honourable lodgings" The family appears to have been very well cared for by the abbey, having been given both a servant and a handmaid, large amounts of food, seven gallons of beer a week, a horse, an large annual allowance of quality clothing, and small yearly pensions for additions purchases of clothing.

By the early 14th century, the abbey had fallen into poverty and two canons had to be sent to other monasteries as they could not be sustained at Darley. One source blames the abbey's poverty on failed harvests and heavy mortality of their cattle. Another, however, blames the Abbot of Darley, who is accused of "selling the woods and wasting the goods and leasing the lands of the abbey, to its great impoverishment".

The Abbey was surrendered for dissolution on 22 October 1538.

There are only two remaining buildings from the monastic period. One is now the Abbey Pub (also known as the Abbey Inn), a Grade II* listed building. Constructed in the 15th century, it is thought to have been part of the Abbot's residence. The building appears to have been roofless for most of its post-dissolution life; a new roof was added in the 1920s and the building reinforced in the 1950s following some movement within the walls. The building was renovated to its present state in 1978. The other monastic survivor makes up part of a private dwelling on Abbey Lane.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Darley Abbey, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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