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Name: STRATFORD LANGTHORNE Location: London County: Greater London
Foundation: 1135 Mother house: Savigny
Relocation: c. 1140 Founder: William de Montfichet
Dissolution: March 1538 Prominent members:
Access: No remains to be seen

Arch from Stratford Abbey
© John Cullen
<click to enlarge>
Arch from Stratford Abbey

Stratford Langthorne, or Stratford, was founded in 1135 by William de Montfichet, and, like Coggeshall, was a daughter-house of the abbey of Savigny in Normandy. Like all the other houses of the Savigniac Order, Stratford Langthorne was absorbed into the Cistercian Order in 1147. It is thought that the original site was at Burstead, and that the house moved to its present site c. 1140. The house quickly acquired great wealth and, owing to its proximity to London, became one of the most important Cistercian houses in England. Stratford’s property included almost a score of manors and some 1500 acres of demesne in West Ham alone. Given its location, Stratford was burdened by visitors from the Cistercian Order and sought relief from the General Chapter. Accordingly, in 1218 the General Chapter ruled that no Cistercian monks or conversi (lay-brothers) visiting London should stay more than three days at the house; in 1219 the General Chapter stipulated that members of the Order who were in London on litigation or for business should stay for only three days out of every fortnight; those who remained longer were to provide their own ale, wine and hay and oats for their horses.

Stone carving from Stratford
© John Cullen
<click to enlarge>
Stone carving from Stratford

In 1267 Henry III received the pope’s legate at Stratford Abbey and made peace with the barons there. During the Peasants Revolt of 1381 the abbey was amongst the religious houses targeted by the insurgents; its goods were stolen and its charters burned. In the late fourteenth century the abbey was damaged by flood and Richard II took it upon himself to restore the buildings. At the time of Dissolution the net annual income of the abbey was valued at £511 and the house was suppressed with the larger monasteries in 1538. Following the Dissolution the site was granted to Sir Peter Mewtas who let the buildings fall into ruin. By the end of the eighteenth century, all traces of the abbey had disappeared, including the foundations which had been dug out by Thomas Holbrook to be used for building stone. By the early twentieth century the site had disappeared beneath railway sidings, a sewage works and small factory buildings.
The site is still occupied by industrial lands and there are no visible remains, although a stone carving and a window from the abbey still survive in West Ham Parish Church.