Leiston Abbey

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The mainly 14th-century remains of an abbey of Premonstratensian canons. Among Suffolk's most impressive monastic ruins, with some spectacular architectural features. Lying in peaceful open fields these striking ruins represent parts of the abbey church and the fairly extensive remains of the buildings around the cloister. The site is entered through the 16th century gatehouse, with its octagonal brick turret, which incorporates the cellarer's range – used for storage – on its northern side. The cloister comes next, with traces of the canon's wash-place or lavatory against the wall of the south range.

At the east end of this southern range are the remains of the day stairs that led up to the refectory or frater. The modern steps in their place afford a good view across the unusually well-preserved remains of the refectory and its basement, or undercroft, which has an outstanding pointed window.

In the east range are the remains of the warming house (over which was the dormitory or dorter), the chapter house and the sacristy, where books and vestments were kept. The remains of the abbey church lie to the north of the cloister: a small arch in the sacristy leads into the south transept and the magnificent north transept arch is ahead. This part of the church – the presbytery, crossing and transepts – provides the best idea of its original stature. The crossing tower remains to a considerable height and the north transept window – one of several that survive – is around 14 metres high. Between the presbytery and the north transept is the Lady Chapel, now thatched and with a wooden doorway.

Last updated: Thu, 24 Feb 2022 18:27