St Radigund’s Abbey


THE RUINS OF BRADSOLE, or ST.RADIGUND’S ABBEY Near Dover Theses pictureque ruins are situated about three miles to the south-west of the town of Dover. The name of the foundation of the Abbey is uncertain, butthe date of itsfountation is aboutthe year 1191. It appears gradually to have increased in wealth and consequence, and about the latter end of the reign of Edward the Sixth was thought of suficient impotance for the Abbots to receive a summons to Pariament. In the twenty-seventh year of Henry the Eighth, St.Radigund’s was included in the list of suppressed religious institutions, and the King granted it, together with all its lands and possessions, to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who however exchange again with Henry, and it was bestowed upon his secretary, Cornwell, afterwards Earl of Essex, at his ataineder it again reverted to the Crown. The site of this Abbey is on a hill, in a most retired and unfrequented situation; the ruins, which are overgrown with ivy, cover a large space of ground and show it to have not only of great extent but handsomely built. The walls of the entrance gateway, which are of great thickness and strength are still nearly entire; this gateway opens by a large arch in the centre, and has a similar arch adjoining for foot-passengers. The north and west sides of the chapel, with part of the dwelling, now patched up as a farm-house, are also standing; the latter had a protecting porch in the centre, but this now forms the end of the building. That part of the front which adjoins it, is curiously chequred with flint and stones, but the chief portion of the ruins is built of stones intermingled with chalk, with freestone corner-stones. In the farm-yard is a large pond from which is supposed the name of Bradsole arose, the word soale, or sole, being a Kentish provincialism for pond. According to a manuscript quoted by Grose, this Abbey was a very diladated and dissipated state about the year 1500; owing to the extravagant and dissipated habits of the abbot. Common report says the foundations of the building contains numerous subterranean passages, which are said to extend to a great distance. The whole of the buildings appear originally to have been surrounded by a broad ditch of moat, enclosing a large circular plot of land. Leland, who visited them about the middle of the sixteenth century, thus describes their state at that time;-

St.Ragidundis staneth on the toppe of a hill a little myles by west; and sum what by sowth, from Dover. There be white chanons, and the quier of the church is large and fayr.The monaster ys at this time netely mayntaned, but it appereth that in tymes past the buildings have bene more ample than they be now. Thereys on the hille fayre wood, but fresch water laketh sumtyme..


The voice that which I did more esteem
In music in her sweetest key
Those eyes which unto me did seem
More comfortable than the day
Those now by me as they have beeb
Shall never more be heard, or seen;
But what I once enjoyed in them
Shall seem hereafter as a dream.

All earthly comforts vanish thus;
So little hold of them have we,
That we from they, or they from us,
May in a moment ravished be,
Yet we are neither just or wise,
If present mercies we despise;
Or mind not how there may be made,
A thankful use of what we had.

A page from a once popular illustrated weekly, “The Saturday Magazine,” dating from March 1837, with a view of the St Radigund’s Abbey gateway, walls and farmhouse, somewhat overgrown.

Old barn at St Radigund’s Abbey, Dover, showing bricked-in ecclesiastical type, arched windows. Possibly a 20th Century photograph

St Radigund’s Abbey engraving, late 1800s.

St Radigunds Abbey gateway and farmhouse with decaying walls of the time. A used postcard featuring a tinted photograph, which has a Dover postmark for March 1905. It was published in the Wykeham Collection series.