Osney Abbeydetails

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Osney Abbey

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This woodcut is taken from a sketch that Thomas Hearne made of Osney Abbey and published in the Rextus Roffensis in 1720; it is reproduced in this book from 1772, along with the accompanying text which presumably is also from around 1772, and starts on page 135 of Volume I:

Osney Abbey, near Oxford.

This Abbey was founded by Robert Doyley or D’oilli, Nephew of that Robert who built the Castle, at the intreaty, it is said, of his wife Edith, a Woman of great Piety. The Account usually given of the Cause of this her Religious Act is in the Fabulous Stile of antient Times. But we are certain, that as its Endowments were from its first Institution very large and ample, so also its Buildings and exterior Ornaments were truly grand and magnificent. It was dedicated “to the Honour and Praise of Christ, and the blessed Virgin St. mary of Osney,” its first Possessors being Canons Regular of St. Austin. The Munificence of several Benefactors soon augmented it’s [sic] Original Grandeur. A particular Detail of its Buildings may be seen in Steven’s* Additions to Dugdale’s Monasticon. Within the Precincts of the Abbey stood a most magnificent Church; b Mr. Woods says more than ordinarily excelling all others, not only in England, but also beyond the Seas.

This Fabrick, which, at its first Erection, was but small in its first Extent, was reedified by John Leech, it’s seventh Abbat, and one — Beaufort, a Knight; both whose Images were cut in Stone, and set up for a Memorial of their Piety. This Religious House continued, for more than four hundred Years to be the Admiration of Spectators, the Asylum of the Indigent, and, as it were, another University; when, with that of other Societies of the like Sort, its Fortune changed, though for a short Time it escaped utter Demolition. For being surrendered into the Hands of King [Henry] VIII, he for the space of three years forbore the Sale of it, and then executed his Intentions by making it a Cathedrall, and stablishing therein a Bishopp and Dean, together with other Officers suitable to the Change; — the County of Oxford becoming a Diocese. In which state it continued only for a short Time, and was then translated to the King’s College of St. Fredeswide, now Christ Church, (Robert King, it’s last Abbat, continuing Bishop of Oxford) at which Period it’s Church and Cloister with other Buildings were subverted and destroyed.

Its almost total Destruction has, in the intervening Space to this Day, followed its Surrender; so that now there are scarce any Remains left, except a few out-houses, near the Mill, which in Mr. Hearne’s View in the Textus Roffensis are marked (d): those on the left Hand beyond the Buttress having been taken down since his Time.

The curious Eye indeed, which is accustomed to trace out the Monuments of ancient Piety and Munificence, may discover some Vestiges of Causeys, Fish-ponds, Walks, and other marks of Convenience and Grandeur; but the most accurate Research produces little satisfactory, and rather gives Pain than Pleasure to the Mind—

See Steven’s Additions to Dugdale. Vol. 2. pag. 104, 118. Hearne’s Textus Roffensis, p. 317. Will’s Mitred Abbies, p. 180, &c. — Cathedrals, vol 2. p. 402.

Notes:

a Vol 2. pag. 121.

b Vid. MS. in the Ashmolean Museum, inituled in the City of Oxford.

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73 x 189mm (2.9 x 7.4 inches)

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135-Osney-Abbey-q75-500x199.jpg

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1400 dots per inch

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