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Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean....
was founded as an Augustinian
The term Augustinians, named after Saint Augustine of Hippo , applies to two separate and unrelated types of Catholic religious orders:...
monastery in 1117 on the site of an earlier church, the oldest-known Saxon church in England, which had itself been built on the site of a Roman structure. The church was greatly enlarged in the 14th century with addition of an ambulatory
The ambulatory is the covered passage around a cloister. The term is sometimes applied to the procession way around the east end of a cathedral or large church and behind the high altar....
to the east end. The abbot became mitred 1416. The monastery was suppressed
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...
in 1539 and presented to Roger Bassinge.
A house called Abbey House
Abbey House, Cirencester was a country house in the English county of Gloucestershire that developed on the site of the former Cirencester Abbey following the dissolution and demolition of the abbey at the Reformation in the 1530s. The site of the dissolved abbey of Cirencester was granted in 1564...
was built on the site in the late 16th century, remodelled in the 1780s, and then demolished in 1964 to be replaced by a block of flats. The area that contained the nucleus of the monastery is now a public park, and only the Norman Arch, an original gateway to the abbey, and parts of the precinct wall remain above ground.
The impressive and substantial three-storey porch of the parish church was built as an administrative building of the abbey and after 1539 the upper levels were used for some time as the town hall. The church itself is a relic and product of a long standing feud between the townspeople and the abbey. The latter, who were responsible for the chancel of the parish church have left us with a plain and unadorned building. The townspeople however were responsible for the remainder, and rebuilt the nave and west tower in an impressive style so as to far out-do the canons and at least win in a war of architecture if nothing else.