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Bat's Castle may once have been known as the legendary fortress Din Draithou, a place also associated with

 a fortress built or used by the legendary Irish king and raider Crimthann mac Fidaig.

Bats Castle is an Iron Age hill fort at the top of a 213 metres 699 ft high hill in the parish of Carhampton south south west of Dunster in Somerset, England.

The site was identified in 1983 after some schoolboys found eight silver-plated coins dating from 102BC to AD350.

It is on the highest point of Gallox Hill.

 Previously it was known as Caesar's Camp and is possibly associated with Black Ball Camp. Bat's Castle has two stone ramparts and two ditches.

 The ramparts are damaged in places and the hill fort is partly covered in scrub.

Bat's Castle may once have been known as the legendary fortress Din Draithou, a place also associated with a fortress built or used by the legendary Irish king and raider Crimthann mac Fidaig.

Cleeve Abbey

is a medieval monastery located near the village of Washford, in Somerset, England. It is a Grade I listed building and has been scheduled as an ancient monument.

The abbey was founded in the late twelfth century as a house for monks of the austere Cistercian order. Over its 350-year monastic history Cleeve was undistinguished amongst the abbeys of its order, frequently ill-governed and often financially troubled. The sole member of the community to achieve prominence was John Hooper, who became a bishop during the Reformation.

In 1536 Cleeve was closed by Henry VIII in the course of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the abbey was converted into a country house. Subsequently, the status of the site declined and the abbey was used as farm buildings until the latter half of the nineteenth century when steps were taken to conserve the remains. In the twentieth century Cleeve was taken into state care; the abbey is now looked after by English Heritage and is open to the public. Today Cleeve Abbey is one of the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monastic sites in Britain. While the church is no longer standing, the conventual buildings are still roofed and habitable and contain many features of particular interest including the 'angel' roof in the refectory and the wall paintings in the painted chamber.


The abbey was founded by William de Roumare, Earl of Lincoln. On 25 June 1198 a colony of 12 monks led by Abbot Ralph arrived at the site from Revesby Abbey in Lincolnshire.

 The official name of the abbey was Vallis Florida, (Latin: 'Flowering Valley') but throughout its history it was generally known as Cleeve after the nearby village. The initial funding for the foundation was increased by land and money from the family of William de Mohun of Dunster, 1st Earl of Somerset and the Beckerolles family. In addition to various landholdings with produced rent for the abbey they held the Right of Wreck, which meant they could claim shipwrecks washed up on the shore of their lands.

The south range was built next, it contained the kitchens, warming house and refectory which projected south beyond the main body of the building, following the usual Cistercian plan.


Expensive heraldic tiles demonstrate rising living standards at Cleeve in the latter part of the Middle Ages.

It is suggested from the heraldry used in the tiled floors of the refectory that it was finished at the end of the thirteenth century.

 The encaustic tiles, which are 23 centimetres (9.1 in) square, include the arms of Henry III, Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall and the Clare family.

 It is believed they were produced to celebrate the marriage of Edmund, 2nd Earl of Cornwall and Margaret de Clare in 1272.

 The final part to be finished was the small west range, which was used for storage and quarters for the lay brothers. East of the core buildings, and linked to them, was a second cloister around which was the monastic infirmary.

The monastery, which is next to the River Washford, would have been surrounded by gardens, fishponds, orchards, barns, guesthouses, stables, a farmyard and industrial buildings. The abbey grounds were defended by a water filled moat and a gatehouse.

Excavation has revealed that a large stone cross, like a market cross, stood just west of the main building.


The abbey gatehouse.

Though Cleeve was by no means a wealthy house, the monks were able to make significant investment in remodelling their home so as to match the rising living standards of the later mediaeval period. In the fourteenth-century elaborate polychrome tiled floors (an expensive and high status product) were laid throughout the abbey and in the mid-fifteenth century radical works were undertaken. A wooden shelter was constructed over the tiled floor in 2016.

Abbot David Juyner (r. 1435–87) commissioned a complete redesign of the south range of the monastery.

 He demolished the old refectory and built a new one parallel to the cloister on the first floor. This grand chamber with its wooden vaulted ceiling (carved with angels) was the equal of the hall of any contemporary secular lord.

 Beneath it he built several self-contained apartments. These were probably used by corrodians, pensioners of the abbey.

 Juyner may also have been responsible for decorating the abbey with wall paintings of religious and allegorical subjects.

 Some of these wall paintings survive. As well as one depicting the Crucifixion, there is an arrangement of St Catherine and St Margaret on either side of, and facing, a man standing on a bridge: the bridge is over water full of fish, and the man has an angel on either side of his head, and is being attacked by a lion to his left on the bridge, and a dragon to his right.

 Work continued under Juyner's successors to the eve of the Dissolution. The last building work to be completed was the remodelling of the gatehouse, performed after 1510, though as late as 1534 the monks were engaged in a major project of renewing the cloister walks in the latest fashion.

 As at the neighbouring house of Forde Abbey, this was never completed, due to the dissolution of the abbey.


The refectory range was rebuilt in the 15th century to provide accommodation equal to that possessed by any contemporary secular lord.

Like most of the smaller Cistercian houses, comparatively little is known about the internal history of the abbey.

 In its early years Cleeve received grants of land and property from local lords and the Crown to supplement its initial endowment and in the prosperous years of the thirteenth century grew steadily, reaching 26 monks in 1297.

 The abbey held various local churches, including those at Cleeve, Queen Camel, Woolavington while also holding the rectory of Lundy.

 The abbey was also responsible for the chapel of Our Lady between Old Cleeve and what is now Blue Anchor; however although this has since disappeared,[17][18] the inn for pilgrims attending the chapel has been expanded into the present Chapel Cleeve Manor.

A major source of income was the export of wool. However, the fourteenth century saw a change in fortunes: the Black Death, a worsening economic climate and poor administration left the abbey (like many others of its order) with sharply declining numbers of monks and saddled with major debt. The internal discipline and morals of the community declined too: in 1400–01 it was reported to the government that the abbot of Cleeve and three other monks were leading a group of 200 bandits and attacking travellers in the region.[20] However, things improved in the fifteenth century and despite the vast expense caused by the extravagant building projects of the last abbots, better management, access to new resources (for instance from the profits from the right to hold markets granted by the crown)[3] and a general improvement in the circumstances facing the house meant that just prior to the dissolution Cleeve was enjoying an Indian Summer of comfortable stability.


In 1535, the abbey's income was only assessed at £155[3] in the Valor Ecclesiasticus, Henry VIII's great survey of church finances. It meant the following year that it came under the terms of the first Suppression Act, Henry's initial move in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Abbot William Dovell and his 16 monks were forced to surrender the abbey on 6 September 1536. There were proposals from local gentry and even some of the king's officials for the Dissolution such as Sir Thomas Arundell that Cleeve should be granted a reprieve, as a number of others among the smaller monasteries were, however, it was not to be and the monks finally left in the spring of 1537.

 Abbot William was given a pension of 40 marks per year, not large but certainly comfortable, which he was still drawing 20 years later.

 Most of the other monks were given pensions too. One former monk of Cleeve rose to prominence and came to a sticky end.

This was John Hooper who became Bishop of Gloucester and Worcester and was killed in 1555 for his Protestant beliefs by Mary I.


View of the cloister from the site of the monks' choir in the church.

Soon after Cleeve became Crown property, it was leased to Anthony Busterd for 21 years.

 In 1538, the freehold of the site was granted to Robert Radcliffe, 1st Earl of Sussex. The church was demolished, save for the south wall which bounded the cloister, and the rest of the abbey converted into a mansion suitable for a gentleman.

 By the early seventeenth century, however, Cleeve had turned into a farm.

 The dormitory was now a large barn, the cloister was the farmyard and the rest of the buildings were used for agricultural purposes and a farm house.

 A red sandstone barn was built which abuts the south-west corner of the abbey.

George Luttrell of Dunster Castle acquired the site in 1870.

 The abbey stopped being used as a farm and extensive archaeological excavations took place.

 The farm house was converted into rental cottages, and the site became a tourist attraction, partly to bring traffic to the West Somerset Railway.

Cleeva Clapp a local farmers daughter, who was named after the abbey, acted as a guide and described her nightly "communings" with the ghosts of the monks for a shilling a head.

Cleeve Abbey was passed back to the Crown in 1950–51 to pay Death Duties on the Luttrell estate and was managed by the Department for the Environment.

 Major restoration and archaeological work followed. In 1984, English Heritage took over responsibility for Cleeve Abbey, carrying out excavations and earthwork surveys and continues to care for it today.

Present day 2018


The chapterhouse seen from the site of its now vanished east wall. The monks met here daily to conduct the business of the abbey.

The church and infirmary have almost entirely vanished, but the site boasts some of the finest and best-preserved monks' living quarters still surviving in southern England.

The buildings round the cloister are still roofed and habitable and many of the rooms retain their vaults. Among the most important preserved rooms are the chapter house, the refectory with its magnificent arch braced wooden vault and the painted chamber. Much of the abbey's medieval tiled flooring remains. Other major survivals include the abbey gatehouse, which still provides entrance to the visitor, the moat and fishponds. Cleeve is open to the public.[25]

The remains of the buildings have been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building, and it is listed as a Scheduled monument.[26]

Cultural references[edit]

The Abbey was the original site on which 'Gracedieu', the setting for the Abbey Series of books by Elsie J. Oxenham, was based. Many of its features described by Oxenham, who visited Cleeve in the early years of the twentieth century, can be identified at the site today, although literary licence allowed her to add features from elsewhere or from her imagination.

The castle scenes in the children's musical-comedy television series Maid Marian and her Merry Men were filmed in Cleeve Abbey.

Old Cleeve

The Church, dedicated to St. Andrew and standing on the site of a Saxon church, is of great interest. It has nave, south aisle, transept, chancel and western tower, the last being of Perpendicular work, and ornamented by a string course of plain shields, which is repeated over the west door. The porch has a cobble floor, with light and dark stones set in a pattern and a round top-chest, for Peter’s Pence. Inside, the wagon roof of the nave has oaken ribs supported by corbels carved in the form of angels holding shields. On the right of the chancel arch is a hagioscope, or squint, and a recess in the north wall of the church contains the recumbent figure of an unknown layman of the fifteenth century. His feet rest upon a cat whose paw holds a rat. The west window and the east window in the transept are filled with stained glass, the gift of the Halliday family.

That in the east window is by Sir Ninian Comper. Tiles found during renovations have been placed round the font. The lectern consists of a brass eagle dated 1600.

In the churchyard is a tall Cross, standing on a lofty Calvary, the whole restored in 1909 after mutilation in Cromwellian times. Close by is the tombstone of a blacksmith, whose calling is described in the epitaph (also found in various other parts of the country).

On the hill above, by the wayside, is the base of another cross, called Cliddon's Cross.

From the road to Blue Anchor from Cleeve may be seen a little distance away the old sixteenth-century manor-house of Binham, now a farmhouse, and a little farther is the lodge—a pretty thatched cottage—of the mansion of Chapel Cleeve. Here are remains of an ancient chapel connected with the Abbey of Old Cleeve. Up to the time of Edward IV a chapel stood on the cliff above Blue Anchor, but it was ruined by a landslip, the image of the Virgin alone remaining in its place uninjured. In recognition of this miraculous preservation King Edward granted a charter for a market or fair, the proceeds of which were to be used for the maintenance of the new chapel built farther inland. Some remnants of this later chapel can still be seen in the grounds of Chapel Cleeve.

Blue Anchor

is a small hamlet on the edge of the sea, from which it is protected by a substantial stone wall and promenade. The alabaster rocks along the shore to the east are worth a visit, and many interesting fossils are to be found along the beach.

There is good bathing, and excellent facilities for camping are offered. Sites and furnished huts can be hired.


Open November-February, 9.30 a.m.-4 p.m.; March-April, October, 9.30 a.m.-

5.30 p.m.; May-September, 9.30 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays from 2 p.m. Admission charge.

The Abbey is about a mile south-east from Old Cleeve.

 Walkers may reach it by passing Cliddon’s Cross and taking the old paved monks’ path.

 From Minehead it can be reached by driving along the Bridgwater road to Washford and then turning to the right, or taking the train to Washford.

 Free car park.

fraternity appears to have numbered, in the best of times, about twenty-eight; at the Dissolution there were only seventeen. Among the celebrated men who were monks of Old Cleeve may be mentioned Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, who was burnt with Cranmer and Latimer in the time of Queen Mary. After the Dissolution the conventual church was razed to the ground, but the buildings were retained and, later, a farmhouse was added, the Monastery being used as the outbuildings of the farm. Owing to this, the roofs have in chief part been kept intact, thus preserving great portions of the buildings. On coming i nto possession of the Old Cleeve property, the late Mr. G. F.

Luttrell had the place cleared and kept in a condition more suitable to its ancient religious character. It is now Ministry of Public Building and Works property

The grounds are approached by an old bridge across the Roadwater brook. Over the thirteenth-century Gatehouse is the Latin inscription—

“Porta patens esto,

Nulli claudaris honesto”

which may be rendered, “Gate, stand open, nor be shut to any honest man.” Above the Perpendicular window are two niches, the lower empty, the upper containing figures of the Virgin and Child. The interior once contained a large upper guest chamber, the stone floor of which has fallen away. The inner front of the Gatehouse displays the name of Dovell, the last abbot, and a stone carving of the Holy Rood.

Crossing the brook which runs through the grounds, notice the stones forming the base of what was once the Market Cross. A doorway close by leads into the main buildings, which are disposed round three sides of a quadrangle, the wall on the fourth side being a portion of the wall of the conventual church.

On the western side of this Cloister Garth is what remains of the cloisters, which once ran all round the quadrangle.

 On the opposite or east side are, on the ground floor, the Chapter House, the entrance to which has on each side a beautiful Early English window, with shafts of blue lias; the Sacristy, with a large circular window, a piscina and aumbries; and several smaller rooms used for monastic purposes.

 Above is the Dormitory, which once ran the whole length of the east side, 137 feet long by 24 feet wide, and was lighted by ten lancets.

 The day stairs are alongside the entrance to the Chapter House, but the night stairs by which the monks went nightly at 2 a.m. to the church have disappeared, though the opening may be seen, as also another opening looking from the north end of the dormitory into the church; this doorway is set askew to facilitate the watching of the altar lights.

 The Day or Common Room is also on the ground floor of the eastern side, and is entered by the slype leading from the cloister garth into the outer grounds. Noticeable features here are the Early English windows, with lias shafts, at the south end, and the bases of the central pillars which supported the floor of the dormitory.

The southern side of the quadrangle is occupied on the ground floor by various domestic rooms; and above, approached by a flight of steps, is the Refectory. It is said to have been the work of Dovell, early in the sixteenth century. It is a fine room, 52 feet long and 22 feet broad, and lighted by nine beautiful Perpendicular windows. In the southern wall is a recess, approached by a few steps, where once stood the desk from which a brother read while the rest of the monks dined. The roof is of English oak, richly carved, the beams resting on angel corbels. At the west end, near the entrance, a door leads into what were once the private apartments of the abbot. Close by, opening from the top of the staircase, is the buttery, a small room, known now as “the painted chamber,” because it contains frescoes of St. Thecla, St. Margaret and St. Katherine. On the south side of the Abbey has, in recent years, been uncovered the flooring of an earlier Refectory, laid in encaustic tiles, representing the arms of certain benefactors.

On the north side of the conventual buildings the greater part of the foundations of the ancient Abbey Church have been laid bare. It appears to have been 161 feet in length, of pure Cistercian type, consisting of a nave of five bays with cylindrical pillars, fragments of which remain, a low central tower, short transepts, each with two square chapels, and a shallow aisleless presbytery.

 Some of the encaustic tiles which formed the floor still remain, being covered when not under examination. The moat which surrounded the Abbey may still be traced in parts; and the premises included, besides the abbey, a mill, two fishponds, and a farm.

The Cistercians were an ascetic order, severe in their discipline, devoted to outdoor toil, and debarred from all ornamentation of the buildings. Consequently, the visitor, if he looks to find florid architecture, as in some abbey remains, will be disappointed; but the buildings are beautifully proportioned and the colour of the stone is lovely, while owing to their compactness and almost perfect condition the student of archaeology may study them with ease and advantage.

Motor-coach trips from Minehead which take in Cleeve Abbey, often approach it by way of the Roadwater Valley, and “a flowery valley” indeed it is in summer-time. The route taken traverses part of the Brendon Hills, which adjoin but are not actually part of the Exmoor hills.

On the Brendons nearly a century ago a flourishing iron-mining industry was carried on, and remains of the works are seen here and there. From the hills a railway ran down into the valley, past the Abbey, terminating at Watchet. but with the decay of the industry the line fell into disuse.