On the west coast of England between Preston and Blackburn are a number of villages, and one of those is Abbey Village. This quiet English village was named ‘abbey’ due to its location close to Whalley Abbey – there is a track which goes between Whalley Abbey and the nearby Brinscall Hall.
Until the nineteenth century, this was a small rural community where nothing much of importance ever happened, except to those who lived there. But then the cotton industry arrived.
The western end of the border between England and Scotland is defined by the Solway Firth. This wide stretch of water points like an arrow towards Gretna Green, and it is the end point for a number of Scottish and English rivers. To the south-west of Greta the coast comes around a ninety-degree curve and then goes south towards Liverpool. But this quarter-circle segment is where we find Abbeytown, our next tour stop.
Today the land around Abbeytown is mostly fields, and fairly flat. But a thousand years ago the area was forested, and the small differences in height were enough for a marsh to develop. At high tide the marsh was covered in water and the areas that remained dry became islands, or in Norse ‘holms’ (the ‘l’ is silent and it’s pronounced ‘hohm’). The Norse had settled in this part of the world after they invaded Britain, and it would end up on the Danish side of the treaty line.
That being said, the Norse were long past by 1150, when the story of Abbeytown begins. The only thing that remains are their names. At the time, this area was under the control of Scotland, and for the next several-hundred years this would be the abbey’s biggest problem. Much as I would love to go into great detail about this, I’ll only cover the general picture here and get more in-depth as we navigate around Britain. Back in 1150, however, relations between England and Scotland were good.
The hamlet of Abbeystead, Lancashire is situated in the north-west of England. Finding Lancaster on the coast, travel a few miles south-east to the edge of the Forest of Bowland. With its narrow lanes and old stone houses and walls, and the river Wyre flowing past to the south, Abbeystead would make the most hardened city-dweller long for the country life.
Abbeystead is one of a group of settlements that make up Over Wyresdale parish. A little over 300 people live in this huge area, much of which is part of the Abbeystead Estate. One of the notable features of the area is Ward’s Stone, the highest point in the Forest.
I hope you’re all enjoying your Easter holiday. I’m releasing this episode a day early as a special treat. I hope you enjoy it.
Episode 9 – Abbeyleix
Last week, the history of Abbey Green ended at the dissolution of the monasteries. But where Abbey Green falls quiet the history of our next town, Abbeyleix, begins.
The foundation of the abbey
This week, we start our adventures in Poulton, Cheshire.
“But Isla,” I hear you exclaim, “Poulton begins with a P! You’re still on A!”
And you’d be right. We are on A. But the story of Abbey Green, Staffordshire begins in Poulton.
Note: This week I have changed from linking to the references from the text. Setting this up was taking me a lot of time, and without it I can get more written. You can still find a list of references at the end of the post. Please enjoy!
Today we visit two Irish locations that share some similarities to Abbey Dore, whom we covered last week. Both towns are former homes of Cistercian monasteries that were left to ruin after the dissolution, though unlike Abbey Dore they were never restored.
Abbeydorney is located in the Irish county of Kerry, close to the west coast and just north of Tralee. The village also goes by the names Abbey O’Dorney and Montnagee. Abbeyfeale is a short distance east of Abbeydorney, and just falls into county Limerick; it is the largest settlement covered so far in this blog, with a population of around 2000.