Name: MEDMENHAM Location: nr Marlow
County: Buckinghamshire Foundation: 1204 Mother house: Woburn Relocation: (resettlement) c. 1212 Founder: Hugh de
Bolebec, Count of Oxford Dissolution: 1536 Prominent members: Access: Private property no access
The first endowment made for the establishment
of a colony at Medmenham was made by Hugh de Bolebec in 1201.
the first monks did not arrive from Woburn until 1204. The colony
did not stay long and had returned to Woburn within the year.
seems that the initial grant made by Hugh de Bolebec proved inadequate
for the community and there is some reason to believe that the
may also have been recalled by the abbot of Woburn.(1) The abbot
of Woburn was deposed on account of this failure and another colony
of monks was sent to Medmenham sometime in the following few years.
By 1212 there seems to have been a permanent independent community
at Medmenham, although it was smaller than most of the Cistercian
The abbey did not receive many endowments and thus
could never support a community of more than six or seven monks.
The founder, Hugh de Bolebec, entered the monastery towards the
end of his life;
however, his children never shared his enthusiasm for the Order.
His daughter, Isabella, attempted to claim the land back while
son went as far as to expel the monks from his land.(2) A
settlement was finally reached in 1241 and the monks were allowed
at the site. The community never prospered and by the time of the
Dissolution there was only one monk besides the abbot. The net
income was just £20 and the house was dissolved with the
smaller monasteries in 1536.(3) Between
1755 and 1763 the site was the home
of Sir Francis Dashwoods Monks of Medmenham or
the Hell Fire Club.(4)
There is very little left of the
complex today, apart from one thirteenth-century quatrefoil-shaped
pier from the church and what may be part of the walling of the
west range. A private nineteenth-century country house named
the abbey now occupies the site of the east range and the north