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History

Abbey gardens

College Garden, hidden within the walls of the Abbey precincts, has been in cultivation for over 900 years.

In monastic times, it was used to grow food and medicinal herbs for the occupants of the Abbey. There was an orchard, as well as fishponds, beehives, and a separate plot for growing vegetables. 

Summer flowers in College Garden

Summer flowers in College Garden

But the garden wasn't simply somewhere to grow food. It was also a place of beauty, neatly laid out and planted with roses and lilies. The garden was tended by a Head Gardener and two under-gardeners. They were monks and were expected to attend daily services – although they were asked to leave their muddy boots and capes outside. Today, the garden is a peaceful place to relax during your visit to the Abbey. You can also enjoy our two smaller gardens: the Little Cloister Garden, with its fountain and borders of scented plants which was originally an area set aside for recuperation after illness, and the Garth, a lawn bordered by the cloisters, which was used by the monks for quiet reflection.

Little Cloister fountain

Little Cloister fountain

The College Garden and Little Cloister Garden are open - and free to visit - on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays. See entry times for garden opening hours.

The work can be tough, but even the cold and rain don’t bother me as I enjoy it so much. I love every day that I spend at the Abbey – just being here makes me smile.

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Tim - Gardener

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