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Buckland Abbey, Devon

Buckland Abbey - this image is copyright free

Buckland Abbey was originally built by a Cistercian order of monks in the thirteenth century. It remained the abbey church of a working monastery until Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 and 1541. While many abbeys were destroyed, Buckland was sold to Sir Richard Grenville in 1541. Richard converted the abbey into a residence, which passed to his grandson Richard Grenville. Meanwhile a man who had been born in poverty in a farming community on the slopes of Dartmoor, had always longed to buy Buckland Abbey. This man was Francis Drake. Drake had done well, rising through ship ownership, working trade routes to America, and then leading a spectacular circumnavigation of the world. He had returned from his round the world trip in 1580. Although he had many enemies in government who hated this upstart, it had been decided that England needed a hero, and Drake was to be the man. Richard Grenville was one of Drake's enemies, and though he was looking to sell Buckland Abbey, he would never sell it to Drake. So Drake hired an intermediary, and kept his purchase secret from Grenville until it was completed. In this way Francis Drake finally managed to get his hands on Buckland Abbey in 1581. This was the great symbol of his rags to riches story. Drake's ship the Golden Hind was put in dry dock at Deptford, also to serve as a symbol of England's new greatness. The original ship eventually rotted away. All that remains of Golden Hind is a chair reputedly made from the ship's timbers which can now be seen in the Great Hall at Buckland Abbey. There is also a drum at the house which went around the world with Drake.

Drake lived at Buckland Abbey for fifteen years, although he was often away at sea, and died on board ship off the coast of Panama in 1596. Many of his descendents continued to live at Buckland Abbey, until it was sold to a local landowner, who passed the property on to the National trust in 1946.

Tudor clothing is produced by a group of crafts people at the Abbey. A complete costume based on that worn by Drake in portraits is on display. There is a restaurant and gift shop. The grounds of the Abbey are extensive, and the National Trust has laid out woodland walks.


Opening Times: Opening hours for National Trust properties can be complex. Please use contact details below.

Address: Buckland Abbey, Yelverton, Devon, PL20 6EY

Directions: Buckland Abbey is eleven miles north of Plymouth, off the A386 near Yalverton. Click here for an interactive map centred on Buckland Abbey.

Access: Building and grounds are only partly accessible. Adapted toilets are provided.


telephone: 01822 853607


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