No Religion Required
You do not need to have any religious affiliation to enjoy a visit to Quarr Abbey. It is an interesting and pleasant place to spend a couple of hours or more. Set amongst acres of countryside, You can visit the well-maintained gardens and enjoy refreshments in the Tea Shop. The Abbey has unique architecture, and you can find out about the monastery in the Visitor Centre. You can also buy the produce grown by the monks from the Farm Shop. Every week, there is a new exhibition of the work of local artists in the gallery.
The original Abbey was founded in 1132 by Baldwin de Redvers, who later became Lord of the Island and Earl of Devon. He brought monks from Savigny Abbey in Normandy, France, to the island for the monastery—the Abbey’s name derived from the fact that it was situated by a quarry to the east.
The French attacked the Isle of Wight in 1377, and the Abbey fortified the fish house and the mill on Wootton Creek. The Abbey was closed by King Henry VIII in 1536 when he disbanded monasteries, priories, convents, and friaries in England, Wales, and Ireland. John Mills of Southampton purchased and demolished the Abbey, and the stone was used for building Yarmouth Castle. Some of the ruins can still be viewed today.
New Abbey, New Order
Following the nineteenth-century French law that banned religious orders, Abbot Paul Delatte of the Benedictine Solesmes Abbey sent a monk to England to seek a place to shelter the community. They purchased Appuldurcombe House near Wroxall and, in 1907, had fenced the old Abbey grounds. The monks raised chickens, planted vegetables and began to build. One of the monks, Dom Paul Bellot, designed the plans for the new abbey. Three hundred workers from the Isle of Wight raised the original building, and despite only having experience building domestic dwellings, the artistry can still be admired today. The monastic buildings are considered some of the most important twentieth-century religious structures in the United Kingdom.
Following World War I, the community of Solesmes returned to France, leaving behind a few monks. In 1937, the priory of Solesmes became an independent abbey, and English monks joined the community.