On this day in history : 23rd March 1540 – Waltham Abbey becomes the last religious community to be closed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII….

Waltham Abbey Church – Image credit : diamond geezer via Flickr

Henry VIII visited Waltham Abbey in Essex a number of times, actually staying there in 1532 with Anne Boleyn…. He suggested that it could become one of the Church of England’s new cathedrals – but this was never to happen….

After the 1534 Act of Supremecy and the severing of ties with the Catholic Church King Henry was free to do what he wished with the 850 different religious establishments across England…. Between a quarter and a third of the country’s land was owned by churches in England – within two years of the Act the Crown began to disband the monasteries and religious houses, seizing their assets…. In four years all had been dissolved bringing great financial gain to Henry – all that is except for Waltham Abbey….

Surviving bridge and gatehouse of the abbey

Eventually though even that was to succumb….causing economic disaster to the town, which had grown prosperous from the many pilgrimages to the Abbey…. The last abbot, Robert Fuller, received a generous pension – but over time all of the buildings, with the exception of the parish church nave, were either demolished or fell into neglect….

The nave of Waltham Abbey Church – Image credit : Cnbrb – own work – Public domain

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