Meaux abbey site today

Of course you can’t look into Hull’s origins without looking at the abbey in Meaux, it’s impossible. In my mind there’s three reasons Hull is here today, Scotland, the monarchy and of course the monks at Meaux abbey.

Founding

Founded around 1150 by William le Gros the count of Aumale, it flourished during the 13th century. William le Gros had intended to use the land to build a hunting lodge, instead a daughter house of Fountains Abbey was built. Fountains abbey still stands in Ripon, albeit in ruins. It is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. Meanwhile the monks at Meaux had been draining the marshland in its extensive lands and raising flocks of sheep. The Monks decided they needed a port in order to distribute the wool, ok so maybe we need to thank the sheep for Hull too? and thus Wyke was born.

By 1249 there were 60 monks and 90 lay brothers working at the abbey. When the black death hit (1348-49) all but 10 of the community died. By 1393 there were only 28 and by the time of the dissolution there were just 25.

The buildings were almost all destroyed in 1542 when Henry VIII ordered expansion of Hull’s defences. The stone was used to build a western wall and blockhouses.

Meaux abbey was a wealthy Cistercian monastery, it was also one of the most important abbeys in Yorkshire. It’s importance emphasised by the wealth of land it possessed. It is a shame, standing at the site of the abbey today, there is very little to show for it’s involvement in creating such a large city. All the architecture above ground has gone, but the earth works do show where these buildings were. Archaeological digs at the site have unearthed a wealth of information.

By Gary

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