Ford Abbey  Dorset


In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Ford Abbey like this:

FORD-ABBEY, a hamlet in Thorncombe parish, Dorset; on the river Axe, at the boundary with Somerset, 4 miles SSE of Chard. The abbey from which it takes its name was built, in the time of King Stephen, for Cistertian monks; was erected in lieu of a previous abbey at Brightley, near Okehampton in Devon, founded by Richard de Brioniis; was endowed and patronized by Adeliza or Alice de Brioniis; passed, in the time of Henry II., to the Courtenays; was restored, adorned, and extended by its last abbot, Thomas Chard; was given, at the dissolution, to Richard Pollard, who was afterwards knighted; passed to the families Poulett, Rosewell, Prideaux, and Gwyn; and was sold, in 1847, to G. ...

W. F. Miles, Esq. The buildings escaped demolition or damage, both at the dissolution and in the civil war; were altered and extended by Inigo Jones; and are now the finest specimen of a monastic edifice in England. The main front faces a terrace and a lawn; presents a long range of façade, adorned with sculpture, and much coloured with lichens and mosses; and comprises chapel, cloister, saloon, porch, tower, refectory, and state apartments. The chapel continues principally as built in the time of Stephen; is mainly Norman, or transition Norman, but with Tudor east window; and has a vaulted roof with pendants, a finely carved screen, and a pulpit. The cloister, the tower, and the refectory are the work of Thomas Chard; continue nearly as he left them; and bear his initials, and the arms of the families of Courtenay, Poulett, and Prideaux. The cloister measures 82 feet in length, and has been converted into a conservatory The refectory is 55 feet long and 28 feet high; has four large Tudor windows; and has been converted into a hall. The saloon and the state apartments are the work of Inigo Jones; present the characteristic features of his style; and were formerly adorned with elaborate old English furniture and famous tapestries. Jeremy Bentham tenanted the abbey in 1815-7, and wrote here some of his works.

Ford Abbey through time

Ford Abbey is now part of West Dorset district. Click here for graphs and data of how West Dorset has changed over two centuries. For statistics about Ford Abbey itself, go to Units and Statistics.

How to reference this page:

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Ford Abbey in West Dorset | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.


Date accessed: 04th August 2021

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