Monday, August 30, 2010
Today I went to a fun day Launde Abbey in High Leicestershire. Launde is a residential retreat house and conference centre serving the dioceses of Leicester and Peterborough. As explained in this BBC News video, it is currently undergoing a major restoration following a major fund raising-drive.
Launde was originally the site of a priory, founded early in the 12th century. Thomas Cromwell was so taken with the setting that he took it for himself when the monasteries were dissolved. However, he lost Henry VIII's favour over the king's unsuccessful marriage to Anne of Cleeves - a case of backing the wrong horse? - and was executed.
So it was Thomas's son Gregory who built the house and appears to have lived the quieter and more secure life of a country gentleman. He married Elizabeth Seymour, the sister of another of Henry's wives.
Pevsner says that it is not clear how much of Gregory's house is left at Launde and suggests that what stands there today appears early to date from the early 17th century.
There is one survival from priory: Launde's chapel, which contains Gregory's monument. This is described by Pevsner as "one of the purest monuments of the early Renaissance in England".