Monument details

HER Number:758/1/1
Type of record:Archaeology
Name:Vale Royal Abbey Church


The site of Vale Royal Abbey is a Scheduled Monument. The Abbey Church was dedicated to St Mary and the foundation stone was laid in 1277. Financial problems prevented the completion of building work until Edward, the Black Prince (1330 - 1376) provided funds for the completion of the Abbey in 1353.

When the building work on the abbey was completed the abbey church was longest built by the Cistercians in England. It stood on the north side of the monastic complex. The design was cruciform in plan with a massive central tower and probably two towers on the western end of the nave. The Black Prince was responsible for the creation of the east end of the church which had 13 chapels, a similar design to the present day cathedral of Toledo, Spain. The chapels were probably used as shrines with holy relics.

It was the largest Cistercian church built in England. Severe gales damaged a large part of the church in 1360 and though funds were provided for its repair and applications made to reduce the size of the church, it is not clear if it was completed to its original scale.

The Cistercian monastery at Vale Royal was built on land granted by the future Edward I (1272-1307) following his escape from a shipwreck. It was originally founded at Darnhall, but this site proved to be unsuitable for a new Abbey and the new site in the manor of Connersley was chosen and named Vale Royal, reflecting its royal support. The Cistercians were a strict order who followed the rules of St. Benedict, adhering to the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. They lived a self sufficient, secluded lifestyle with an emphasis on farming. Their un-dyed robes meant they were known as the "white monks".

In 1539, Henry VIII ordered the abolition of the many monasteries of Britain. He set out to gain their wealth and power for himself as the newly designated head of the Church of England.

Vale Royal Abbey and lands were bought for 450 pounds by Thomas Holcroft at the Dissolution. Holcroft pulled down the church and most of the buildings as ordered, and converted the west and south range of the cloister and some associated buildings into his manor house.


Monument Types

  • ABBEY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BUTTRESS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHANCEL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHURCH (Church building, Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • NAVE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • RELIGIOUS HOUSE (Religious site, Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL (Wall-stone some (1-100), Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1016862: Vale Royal Abbey

Related records

758/1/0Related to: Vale Royal Abbey (Monument)

Cheshire East Council and Cheshire West & Chester Council - Working in Partnership
Heritage Lottery Fund