ABBEY HISTORY

It is thought that Saxons farmed the land and lived nearby, calling the area around the abbey Bradsole, the Saxon meaning for Broad water or Broad Pond. The Doomsday book lists Hugo de Montfort as the owner who passed it onto his son and grandson. It was then passed over to William de Poulton who with his heir granted the land of Bradsole to the Canons for their Abbey. Records vary from 1191-1193 as to the actual founding date of the Abbey.

The Premonstratensian Order who inhabited the abbey were a Roman Catholic monastic order founded in 1120 by St Norbert (1080-1134), a German bishop, at Premontre in Northern France. Members were known as White canons and dressed in white woolen habits. The rule was a stricter version of that of St Augustine canons. This order was first introduced into England in 1143 by the foundation of the abbey at Newhouse in Lincolnshire, other abbeys were soon founded bringing the total number of Premonstratensian Abbeys to 31, and 2 Nunneries. Langdon Abbey also near Dover, and Bayham Abbey, near Tunbridge Wells are the nearest. St. Radigunds and Bayham were colonized directly from Premontre.

After the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII in the mid-sixteenth century, the canons had a choice of transferring to another larger monastery or taking a pension. In 1538, 237 loads of stone went from St Radegunds to build Sandgate castle. Stone also went to build Walmer Castle and also surrounding houses and farm buildings. In 1590, Queen Elizabeth sold it to Simon Edolph who converted the refectory into the farmhouse, adding the north porch and the chequered flint and stone work. The North Tower can clearly be seen as you approach the farm, the 12th & 14th century barns, wellhouse and farmhouse (Peter’s parents home) and many other remains are dotted around the farm.The Abbey is on the “at risk” register with English heritage (http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/conBar.7320)

The abbey is named after Radegund, a German Princess, born in 520. When she was ten her country was invaded by a tribe called the Franks, Clothaire, their king took her captive and compelled her to become his fifth wife. She was very unhappy and fled to a religious house at Poitiers. In 552 she became a nun and founded a nunnery there, St. Croix. She died in 587 peacefully after suffering a kind of continual martyrdom and was later made a saint. Her black marble tomb in the church of St Radegund at Poitiers is annually visited by thousands of pilgrims. The festival of St. Radegund is February 11th, and her anniversary is August 13th.

The Abbey came into the Moynan family when Peters grandfather William Moynan bought the farm at auction in May 1953 and farmed the land with his sons Albert, David and Jeff.

Today Peter, continues to farm the land with help from his wife Sue and hopefully soon their son’s James and Max.

We farm 1076 acres growing wheat, barley, oilseed rape, beans and linseed. We also have 189 acres of grassland and woodland which is grazed by horses and neighbour’s sheep. We employ two full time employees, and several hard working cleaners!

In 2000 we applied to convert our old redundant farm buildings into holiday barns and in 2001 planning permission was granted. A year later than planned, we started work on Monks and Flint barns, these were once a milking parlour (you can still see the black iron work on the walls that once held the chains to tie the cows up).We had a lot of work to do which we mainly carried out with our own staff and by Christmas 2003 the barn’s were finished. We started work on Nell’s barn to the west of the old yard at the end of the summer season of 2004 and it was completed in April 2005. Finally, we finished converting The Stables in December 2006.


A More detailed history of St Radigunds Abbey written by Grace Moynan is available for a small donation to charity, please contact us if you would like a copy.

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