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Hailes Abbey

Visited September 2022

Location Hailes, Gloucestershire
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking Yes
Facilities Gift Shop, Toilets, Picnic tables


The remains of a Cistercian abbey, built in a beautiful setting in the Cotswolds. 







Originally built in 1246, the abbey rose to prominence in 1270 when it acquired what was claimed to be a portion of the blood of Christ on the cross (this was later found to be a concoction of honey coloured red by saffron) This led to it becoming  a pilgrimage site, and in the 15th century the abbey was rebuilt in a much grander scale to reflect this, including a shrine to house the Holy Blood. The shrine no longer exists but its position is marked with a small grassy mound. The wealth that the pilgrim's money brought to the abbey  can be still be seen in the impressive ruins which survive to this day.


The picturesque Cloister is still the main attraction at this site, even in its ruined state. The ruins have all been 'soft capped', which means they have been topped with a layer of soil and turf, to protect them from weathering. This gives the site a softer and more wild look and helps it to blend into its surroundings. It was especially attractive in September when we visited, as the turf was long and dried a yellow hue to match the long grass which had been left uncut around the ruins. 


The colonnade of the cloister is by no means intact, but there are paths marking out where the missing columns would have been set alongside the large grassy square in the middle. 


Trees were planted on the site in the 1920s and these have matured into glorious specimens, which make a walk around the outer perimeter a pleasant experience.







There is a small museum on the site which has some of the original floor tiles from the abbey, and some of the decorative ceiling bosses and arches which have been reconstructed. The museum has some artefacts which can be handled by children, such as a reproduction of a pair of glasses belonging to a monk. 


It also displays the original abbey bell, which was taken to the next door church on the dissolution of the abbey. It stayed safely there until recent times when it was brought back to the site. After the dissolution the abbey became a private dwelling, but there are no remains of the house that once stood there.





Hailes church is a few minutes walk from the abbey ruins, and is well worth a look. It actually pre-dates the abbey by about seventy five years. There are some impressive wall paintings which depict the lion symbol of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, founder of the abbey.


Both the abbey and church lie on the Cotswold Way footpath, so there are some walking routes on offer straight from the exit. 





More info:  English Heritage Hailes Abbey

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