Waverley Abbey was the first Cistercian monastery set up in Britain and as such is historically quite important. Although some fairly large fragments remain, it is not to the scale of some of the other ruined Abbeys in Britain.
Little but foundations remain of most of the Church, but substantial remains exist of two halls including a fanastic undercroft with wonderful fan vaulating.
The Abbey was consecrated in around 1160, a larger complex replaced this initial building by 1278. Part of the south east corner of this second church stands today embraced by the roots of an ancient yew tree, some remains of the cloisters make up most of the rest of the ruin near the church. Down by the banks of the River Wey amidst the concrete tank traps from World War II are two buildings from the dormitory ranges and it is one of these that has the superb undercroft of the lay brothers' refectory that is by far the most interesting feature at Waverley.
By the time of the Dissolution there were only 13 monks at Waverley and the remains today are most interesting for their rural setting.
However, the ruins were enough to catch the imagination of Sir Walter Scott who named a series of twenty-four books after Waverley.
The ruins are owned by English Heritage and there is no charge for entry. They are quite difficult to find, especially if approaching from Farnham where there are no signs at all to this hidden piece of Surrey's history.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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