Mottisfont Abbey is an historic site near Romsey, Hampshire, England. The site in the Test Valley is thought to originate from Saxon times where meetings were held. In 1201, William Briwere founded a priory on the site, which was later converted in to a house by William Lord Sandys.
Today the site is owned by the National Trust and used for tourism. It has beautiful kitchen gardens and is occasionally used for theatre productions in the summer months. Within the Abbey there is a drawing room decorated by Rex Whistler, and Derek Hill's picture collection.
The gardens are home to the National Collection of Pre-1900 shrub roses, and also a children's quiz and trail.
There is a seven mile circular walk around the estate that can be accessed from the car park between 9am and 6pm even when the rest of the estate is closed. The woodland areas of the Estate, Spearywell Wood and The Great Copse, together with the car park, are the only areas in which dogs are admitted.
Mottisfont Abbey is set amid cool green lawns, shaded by enormous plane, cedar, beech and oak trees and bordered by a tributary of the beautiful chalk stream, the Test.
This was the site of the 13th century Priory of Holy Trinity. The foundation was never large and its fortunes were seriously impoverished by the Black Death. Towards the end of the 15th century the priory's revenues could only support three canons.
In 1536 the priory was suppressed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Henry VIII granted Mottisfont to his Lord Chamberlain, William, Lord Sandys of The Vyne, in exchange for the villages of Chelsea and Paddington.
Lord Sandys began at once to transform the priory into a Tudor mansion. Instead of using the residential parts of the priory for his new house, Lord Sandys demolished these and converted the nave and tower of the church itself. The north front of the house represents the full length of the nave and ends in the truncated tower where the arch leading into the north transept is outlined in the facade. In 1684 last of Lord Sandys descendants died and the house passed to the Mill family.
The most popular feature of the garden, however, is the National Collection of Old-fashioned Roses. These pre-1900 shrub roses were established after 1972 in the former walled kitchen garden. The box-edged beds arranged around a fountain pool contain over 300 rose varieties. On the far side of the garden is the crystal-clear spring of 'font' which attracted the Austin canons to the site 800 years ago and gave the place its name.
In 1957 Mrs Russell gave Mottisfont Abbey and the estate of over 2,000 acres, including most of the village of Mottisfont, farmland and woods, to the National Trust. In 1966 the Trust acquired Derek Hill's 20th century picture collection.
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