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Evesham, Abbey of


Former Benedictine monastery at Evesham, Worcestershire, England. According to tradition, it was founded by St. Egwin, Bishop of worcester, in 702. From 941 to 969 and from 976 to c. 989, during which years it was in lay hands, the abbey church was served by secular priests. benedictine monks were restored c. 989 by the bishop of Worcester. Under Abbot Aelward (101444), a relative of King Canute, Evesham began to be independent of the bishops. Abbot Aethelwig (105977) regained much land lost under secularization. Aethelwig was an adviser of william i (the Conqueror), who entrusted seven Midland counties to him. In 1069 to 1070, during the harrying of the North, Aethelwig made his abbey a relief center for refugees, and in 1073 to 1074 he sent three monks to begin the restoration of monasticism in northern England. He bequeathed money for a new church, which was erected by his successor. In 1095 to 1096 Evesham monks were sent to Denmark to found a priory at Odense. Evesham helped to reform this daughter house in 1174, though contact ceased in the next generation. A cell was founded also at Penwortham, Lancashire, in 1140. In 1189 Roger Norreys, the deposed prior of Canterbury, was transferred to Evesham. The new abbot persecuted the monks and wasted the revenues. An attempted episcopal visitation by the bishop of Worcester, however, united all factions in the abbey. Thomas of Marleberge, the monks' spokesman and a brilliant canonist, won exemption for the abbey during a protracted suit at Rome in 1204 to 1206. This, and the interdict in the following year, prolonged the tyranny of Roger Norreys at Evesham until 1213, when he was deposed by a papal legate. Marleberge himself was abbot of Evesham from 1229 to 1236. He was probably its most learned abbot and coauthor of its chronicle. The abbey's jurisdiction over the churches in the Vale of Evesham was confirmed in 1248. The 14th and 15th centuries were peaceful, though the abbey suffered severely in the Black Death of 1348 to 1349. In 1466 Evesham took over the decayed Abbey of Alcester (Warwickshire), which became a dependency. The abbey was surrendered in 1540. The buildings were demolished and only a detached bell tower remains.

Bibliography: Sources. w. d. macray, ed., Chronicon abbatiae de Evesham (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores, 244v. 29; 1863). g. r. c. davis, Medieval Cartularies of Great Britain (New York 1958) 44. f. wormald, ed., English Kalendars before A.D. 1100 (London 1934) 1:16.27; English Benedictine Kalendars after A.D. 1100 (London 1939) 1:21. h. a. wilson, ed., Officium ecclesiasticum abbatum, secundum usum Eveshamensis monasterii (Henry Bradshaw Society 6; 1893). Literature. The Victoria History of the County of Worcester, ed. j. w. willis-bund et al., 4 v. (Westminster, Eng. 190124) v.2. benedictines of stan-brook, Saint Egwin and his Abbey of Evesham (London 1904). r.r. darlington, "Aethelwig, Abbot of Evesham," English Historical Review 48 (1933) 122, 177198. l. weibull, "S:ta Maria i Evesham och s:t Knut i Odense," Scandia 13 (1940) 196205. 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) 58, 65, 63.

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