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Crowland, Abbey of

CROWLAND, ABBEY OF

Former Benedictine monastery, known also as Croyland, dedicated to St. Mary, St. bartholomew, and St. guthlac in the county and Diocese of lincoln, England. Tradition claims it was founded by Ethelbald of Mercia (c. 716) in the fens near St. Guthlac's hermitage, piles having to be driven to provide a firm site. In 870 the abbey was destroyed by the Danes and was not restored until c. 970, when a rich clerk, Turketyl, became abbot and provided ample endowment. Following a disastrous fire, Abbot Godfrey rebuilt the church c. 1110. Building continued during the 13th century, and a fine tower in perpendicular Gothic (see church architecture) was added c. 1460. The successful farming of the rich fenlands led to frequent attempts at encroachment by neighbors and to lawsuits to protect the abbey's interests. These disputes fostered a strong community spirit among the 40 monks, a solidarity that was reflected in the high standard reported at visitations. Among artistic productions the Guthlac Roll reached the high-water mark of English outline drawing. Literature flourished during the 13th century, when William of Ramsey wrote metrical lives of SS. Guthlac, neot, and Waldef, whose shrine was in the abbey. The best-known work was the abbey chronicle compiled c. 1360, though ascribed to Ingulf (appointed abbot in 1085). It was continued during the 15th century. John Bridges, an unpopular and arbitrary abbot, surrendered the house in December 1539 [see ref ormation, protestant (in the british isles)]. The monks were pensioned.

Bibliography: w. fulman, ed. Ingulfi Croylandensis historia and Historiae Croylandensis continuatio in Rerum Anglicarum scriptores veteres, 3 v. (Oxford 168491) v.1. The Victoria History of the County of Lincoln, ed. w. page (London 1906) v.2. d. knowles, The Monastic Order in England (2d ed. Cambridge; Eng. 1962). d. knowles and r. n. hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales (New York 1953).

[f. r. johnston]

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