Denny Abbey - History and Facts | History Hit

Denny Abbey

Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

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About Denny Abbey

Denny Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery in Cambridge which dates back to the mid-12th Century. ⁠

Denny Abbey history

Founded in 1159 as a Benedictine monastery, in 1170 it was taken over by the Knights Templars and used as a home for aged and infirm members of the order. After the Templars’ suppression for alleged heresy in 1308, it became a convent of Franciscan nuns known as the Poor Clares. ⁠

Following the dissolution of the monastaries in 1539 by Henry VIII, it became a farm and was in use until the late 1960s.⁠ The Abbey, Nuns’ Refectory and surrounding land remained a farm until they were leased in 1947 to the Ministry of Works, which later transferred them to English Heritage. The abbey, partially restored in the 1960s, is open to the public alongside the Farmland Museum, who manage the Abbey on behalf of English Heritage.

The Farmland Museum, which opened in 1997, has a shop, café and an education centre, running courses for local schools. Farm buildings including the 17th-century barn have been converted into displays of local history and farming, including a 1940s farm labourer’s cottage, a 1930s village shop, displays on local crafts and skills.

Denny Abbey today

⁠Time capsules such as Denny Abbey truly hold the key to uncovering the lives of those who worked on the land – the peasants who made up 80% of the Medieval European population. ⁠

The neighbouring Farmland Museum features an extensive outdoor collection of farming machinery from the Fens, a fenman’s hut, blacksmith’s and wheelwright’s workshops, village shop display and holds information about many aspects of Cambridgeshire rural life. The Farmland Museum hosts a range of events, children’s activity days and adult art and craft workshops.

Getting to Denny Abbey

The address of the location is Ely Rd, Waterbeach, Cambridge CB25 9PQ. The Museum is located just Northeast of Cambridge.

If travelling by car, take the A10 towards Ely, following the brown museum signs or if using the A14, exit at Junction 33 (Milton Interchange), to take the A10. Car parking is free. The car park is directly opposite the museum entrance. When arriving at the museum, we have a very long driveway which is shared by farm traffic. Please be aware of tractors and other farm machinery that may be on this road.

If travelling via bus, use bus services number 9 or X9, from Cambridge Drummer Street Station to Ely. For full running times and further information, please visit the Stagecoach website. The “Research Park Entrance” bus stop is located on the A10, a 15-minute walk from the Museum entrance. When arriving at the museum on foot, please be aware of farm traffic using the main access road.