Buckland Abbey is tucked away in its own secluded valley above the River Tavy on the Devon side of the Tamar Valley. A Cistercian Abbey which was founded in 1278 by Amicia, Countess of Devon. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries King Henry Vlll sold it to Sir Richard Grenville who converted it into a residence with the help of his son Roger. Whilst Roger was Captain of King Henry Vlll's flagship, the ill fated Mary Rose, he drowned. When Sir Richard died the property and title passed to his grandson, another Richard, who continued the renovations. Young Richard, a swashbuckling seafarer, took part in the early English attempts to settle the New World, and participated in the fight against the Spanish Armada, dying in 1591 at the Battle of Flores.
A Ballad of the Fleet
A Ballad of the Fleet
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
At Flores in the Azores Sir Richard Grenville lay,
And a pinnace, like a fluttered bird, came flying from far away:
'Spanish ships of war at sea! We have sighted fifty-three!'
Then sware Lord Thomas Howard: "Fore God I am no coward;
But I cannot meet them here, for my ships are out of gear,
And half my men are sick. I must fly, but follow quick.
We are six ships of the line; can we fight with fifty-three?"
The rest of the Ballad can be read here
Swashbuckling Sir Richard Grenville aged 29 years in 1571
National Portrail Gallery
Buckland Abbey eventally became the home of another great seafarer, Sir Francis Drake, Grenville's cousin. It remained with the Drake family until it was given to the National Trust.
Sir Francis Drake
The Great Barn is one of the largest medieval barns remaining in the country - it would have been filled and emptied many, many times. Piled high at harvest time with grains, apples and root vegetables. Later in the year, sacks of flour would take their place along with barrels of cider, and during the late spring bundles of sheep fleeces.
Here it is possible to see where the original church crossing was removed
Window etchings celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Armada in 1988
A page from a Medieval Antiphonal - a winter choir book giving the sung parts of the service for each day until Pentecost - the manuscript was made in Italy around 1390.
This window is in The Drake's Chamber which was probably used as a bedroom or study. Following a fire the ceiling has been given a new hand crafted plasterwork ceiling part of which shows medieval bee skeps.
Rembrandt self portrait
In 2008 the National Trust were gifted six Dutch paintings. The highlight of the generous donation was a painting that could be a 'lost' Rembrandt. It arrived at Buckland Abbey in 2010 where it has been hanging in the Georgian dining room. Ernst van de Wetering, Dutch art historian and Chair of the Rembrandt Research Project in Amsterdam, visited Buckland Abbey to study the self portrait. He was convinced that the painting is an authentic Rembrandt work. Currently it is undergoing tests by a specialist team at the University of Cambridge that will include things such as x-rays, dendrochronology and analysis of the pigments used.
In the kitchen, cooks were making an authentic Tudor meal, one of which was Chicken in Almond Milk. Recipe below if you fancy giving it a try.
The Great Hall is positioned within the centre of the original crossing area in the church, and is the most lavishly remodelled room in Grenville's conversion. The beautiful 16th century floor tiles are thought to have been imported from Holland. The floor level is above that of the original church, as it is where a number of monks remain buried.