Athelney, Abbey of

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Former Benedictine monastery established by King alfred in 888, on an island site amid marshes in the county of Somerset and in the ancient Diocese of bath and wells, England. The original foundation, made by foreign monks under John the Scot, was a failure. It was refounded c. 960 with a Saxon community under the benedictine rule. There were insufficient resources for great development and the house was little more than a satellite of glastonbury. The monks were few and poor, but content with their poverty and solitude. The church, dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul, rested on piles and was built on the round continental plan. It was rebuilt in 1321. The abbey was dissolved in 1539 when the abbot and six monks were pensioned. Chancellor Audley sold the buildings.

Bibliography: Somerset Record Society, Two Cartularies of the Benedictine Abbeys of Muchelney and Athelney in the County of Somerset, ed. e. h. bates (London 1899). The Victoria History of the County of Somerset, ed. w. page (London 1906) v. 2. d. knowles, The Monastic Order in England, 9431216 (2d ed. Cambridge, Eng. 1962). d. knowles and r. n. hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales (New York 1953).

[f. r. johnston]