29 May 2008 • 1,598 views
This building stands - here -
next to the Guildhall, which was yesterday's picture.
There is information about the house - here -
on the City's web site, also a concise History of Abbey House
The plaque by the gate says :-
"Abbey House stands on the site of St Mary's Abbey.
It was built about 1750 and originally faced the gardens to the rear.
The present castellated front was added after the widening of The Broadway in 1771.
Benedictine Nuns, fleeing the disturbances of the French Revolution, made their home here in 1790s.
The house now serves as the official residence of the Mayor of Winchester."
Elsewhere I've read that St Mary's Abbey was originally one of the largest religious houses in the country, founded in 990 AD by Ealhswith, King Alfred's Queen.
Following the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, after which most of the monastery buildings were demolished, Queen Mary Tudor gave the site to the City of Winchester as a gift of gratitude for the City's hospitality at the time of her marriage to Philip of Spain, which took place in the Cathedral in 1554.
What may have remained of the derelict monastery buildings was, as far as I can make out, used as a "quarry" for local construction work and the land was sold. This house was built as a private residence with substantial enclosed gardens.
In 1889 the City re-purchased the property, the gardens were designated a "Public Pleasure Ground" (Park) and opened in 1890, following the construction of the Guildhall on the eastern section of ex-Abbey land. In 1893 the house was designated the official residence of the Mayor.
The entrance to Abbey Park, which carries on round behind this house, is the left of the house. Running across the gardens is a pretty water course, Abbey Mill Stream, which powered Abbey [Silk] Mill, and fed water into carp ponds which were used to provide food..