When you first step out of the car and see the place from a distance, it looks rather daunting and uninviting! But pause for few moments, and step inside. As you walk through it, you will realise once this building was holding its head up high with pride as these ruins still stand from when it was founded in 1238.
Address: Netley, Sothampton, Hampshire, SO31 5GA
Few facts regarding the abbey is as follows:
1) The timeline of the abbey could probably be outlined as:
- Monastery/Abbey (1239-1535)
- Private Mansion (1536- 1704)
- Closure (1704-until late 18th century)
- Romantic Ruin (Late 18th Century-until 19th Century).
- Archaeological site/tourist visits (1860 onwards)
- Passed on to state by the last owner in 1922 (Tankerville Chamberlayne). It is now taken care by English Heritage.
2) It was founded by Peter des Roches, the powerful Bishop of Winchester, in 1238. King Henry III later became the patron of the monastery where Cistercian monks, brothers, officials and servants initially inhabited here. The abbey is close to Southampton waters and was known for its generosity towards travellers and sailors who came to rest.
3) During the dissolution period of the monasteries, Henry VIII suppressed Netley abbey in 1536 and it was gifted to politician Sir William Paulet as a reward for being an obedient servant to the king. He later converted it to his private mansion.
4) The abbey was ordered to demolish in 1704 after the last occupant, but was stopped after the tragic death of a demolition worker (apparently he had a dream that he was going to get punished unless he had stopped the demolition and he ignored it!!!!).
5) As part of the Romantic Ruin many artists, poets and authors visited the site for inspiration for their works, and it is believed that Jane Austen visited Netley and got inspired for her novel Northanger Abbey (1817)
Entry: Entry and parking is free (but limited car parking spaces on the site, more spaces and shops are available in Netley Village)
Opening times: 10am-6pm daily (April-September)
10am-4pm Sat and Sun only (October- March) (closed on 24th Dec, 25th Dec and 1st Jan)
- This is an historic site and ruins can be dangerous therefore take care of children. Dogs are allowed here if they are on leads
- There are no shops or toilets at the site but available in the Netley village which is walkable distance from here.
On a personal note, I would be less inclined to visit this site when there is less daylight/ towards the evening in winter times, it looked a bit spooky and mysterious to me! and apparently the abbey is inhabited by a ghost monk! But we didn’t experience anything unusual, and we didn’t go inside the Abbot’s house outside the abbey either!