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FURNESS ABBEY

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The remains and site of Furness Abbey. Originally founded in 1124 as a Savigniac monastery at Tulketh, in 1127 it moved to Furness. The original buildings are likely to have been temporary ones of wood whilst the monastery was built. The earliest of stone is likely to have been the church, and the south wall of the nave has the earliest surviving elements, dating to 1127-47. The Abbey was destroyed by the Scots in 1138, and recolonised in 1141, at which time it was substantially rebuilt. It became Cistercian in 1147 and prospered until it was dissolved in 1537. Demolition of many parts of the Abbey followed soon after the Dissolution, and in 1538 the Abbot's lodging was in use by the High Sheriff of Cumberland. In 1540 the land and revenues were annexed to the Duchy of Lancaster, and the house leased to Sir Thomas Curwen, follwed by hi son-in-law John Preston in 1546. At this time the hall was ruinous, although by 1671 there was a new house, probably based on the Abbot's lodgings to the north of the Abbey. The Abbey House (or Manor House) remained in the Preston family in the 17th and 18th centuries, and became a hotel in 1854. The house was probably originally U-shaped, with a main range and two wings. The estate passed to the Lowther family and then the Cavendishes but was no longer the main residence and the house fell into disuse. The ruins attracted attention for their picturesque nature in the 18th and 19th centuries and were frequently illustrated. Tourism to the site increased with the opening of the Furness Railway Station in the 19th century. The ruins came into the guardianship of the state in 1923.

There are substantial building remains and earthwork remains. The building remains include ruins of the cruciform church, the East range of the cloister, and the infirmary and chapel to the South of the cloister. Excavations have revealed the total plan, most of which remains as foundations outlined on the ground. It is in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the English Heritage website.