From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Creake Abbey

52° 55' 14.8" N 0° 45' 34.0"E

  • History
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
Creake Abbey is located between Burnham Market and North Creake in Norfolk. The remains of the church are in the care of English Heritage, the remainder, including the cloister has been converted into Creake Abbey studios.

In 1206, a chapel named St Mary of the Meadows, was built by Sir Robert de Nerford and Lady Alice de Nerford. Sir Robert set up an almshouse dedicated to St Bartholomew, in 1217 close to the chapel to help the poor. The almshouse and chapel was attended to by four chaplins and their master who expanded it into a priory in 1230. The master became the prior and the chaplin's became canons. They adopted the Augustinian way of life even though they had no monks. Pope Gregory IX confirmed the status of the priory. After Sir Roberts death, Lady Alice transferred her right to appoint the prior to the Crown, so Henry III raised the priory to abbey status in 1231.

The abbey did not grow like Castle Acre or Binham, but they also never suffered from eccentric abbots, embezzling priors or disputes with the neighbours. In 1484, a fire broke out in the church which almost destroyed it, half of the church was never rebuilt. The nave and transepts were demolished leaving the inner bays of the crossing. A new abbot was appointed in 1491 with plans to rebuild. Money and land were donated to this end and work started.

The abbey repairs were never completed as the plague struck killing all the brothers. The abbot, Giles Shevington lasted until December 1506. Creake abbey was no more. The buildings and land were given to Lady Margaret Beaufort, the mother of King Henry VII. She then left it to Christ's Collage in Cambridge. The abbey was converted into a farm house, the ranges becoming barns.

The site is now in the care of English Heritage.