Cleeve Abbey was founded as a Cistercian abbey around the year 1186 by William de Roumare, grandson of the Earl of Lincoln (also named William de Roumare). The elder de Roumare had founded the abbey at Revesby, in Lincolnshire and it was monks from Revesby who began the new abbey at Cleeve. The original name of the abbey was Vallis Florida (Valley of Flowers) but it later became known as Cleeve Abbey after the nearby village of that name.

              Cleeve Abbey was not a terribly prosperous house; it never reached the heights of other Cistercian houses like that at Glastonbury. Even at its height it never had more than 28 monks in residence.

             Cleeve Abbey church was demolished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII, and now little can be seen of it beyond foundation outlines. The rest of the abbey, however, escaped relatively unscathed from the attentions of Henry's men. That is because it was immediately converted for use as a home, and later, as a complex of farm buildings. Thus, Cleeve managed to escape the collapse into ruin of so many other grand monastic settlements.

We entered through the two storey gateway

William DOVELL the last abbot who surrendered the abbey in 1537.

Then we moved on to the abbey buildings which remain in surprisingly good condition

The ceiling of the Chapter house.

The roof has been white washed to give an impression of what it would have looked like in the Middle Ages

The “Throne”

The 13th century “dortoir”, or sleeping quarters, are remarkably complete, with the original timber roof still in place.

The 15th century Refectory is a beautiful chamber, with whitewashed walls leading up to a wagon roof embellished with carved angelic figures projecting out into the chamber.

The excavated remains of the original 13th century Refectory lie beside the later rectory. Here, the tiled floor exists in almost perfect condition. The refectory floor  consists mainly of heraldic tiles, visualizing the abbey’s political affiliations and commemorating its most important lay patrons.

The heraldic devices on the tiles enable the floor to be dated with some precision to the years 1272-1300. 

Sadly we were unable to see the Refectory pavement which is in the process having a shelter built on top of it, to protect it from the elements and enable the public to see it without causing any further deterioration.

Coat of Arms of the De Clare family

Coats of arms of the Plantagnet kings (the three lions - either Edward I or Henry III) and ,

Richard, Duke of Cornwall


After an excellent lunch at the White Horse at Cleeve, the party proceeded to Dunster Castle.

Again our “tour guide“was able to give us more background information on the castle, and when it was built and then we made our leisurely way round the castle.  

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Our first stop was the site of the abbey church, destroyed during the Reformation,  of which only the outline remains.

Some of the rooms still had the remnants of the paintings on the walls.

We peeked into the Guest Rooms, on the ground floor.  The largest of them had a living room, bedroom and en-suite toilet  or “garderobe.”

On Saturday 11 July, 13 members of the Stoke St Mary History Group visited Cleeve Abbey and Dunster Castle.

Tom Mayberry very kindly led the visit and provided the Group with much fascinating information  about the two sites.

A quick cup of tea and a group photo and  so back to Stoke having spent a very enjoyable day discovering more history of  Somerset.

Luttrell Coat of Arms

A 19th Century carriage

Just to show how the “other half” lived