Works by Percy Robertson
No larger image. Newark Abbey

Newark Abbey, the most extensive ruin of all the Abbeys of Surrey, was founded in the time of Richard I. by Ruald de Cava, and his wife, Beatrice de Sandes (Send), and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St. Thomas of Canterbury.

Its revenue at the time of the Dissolution, 258, was relatively considerable then, and was derived from endowments and charges on various parishes around. Among its many appanages was the church of St. Martha on the Hill.

Prettily situated among the water meadows of the Wey in the midst of a number of tributary rivulets which here enter that river.

Built for monks of the Augustine order, more popular, it seems, than some of the other orders, their labours and beneficences among the local peasantry, at that time more amenable, perhaps, to the monastic influence than other districts of England, were greatly missed at the Dissolution, and long and loud were the complaints consequent on the suppression of Newark Abbey.

There does not seem to have been any prominent names associated with this religious house, except that of Stephen Langton, who was taken by Tupper as his hero for his novel, "The Days of King John." His authority for his birth in the Tillingbourne valley, and his first taking monastic vows at Newark, it is in vain to seek. Imagination may be useful, but it is sometimes unreliable. Flint was the material principally used in the structure of the Abbey. What little stone there was has been taken away for other buildings and perhaps road purposes. Rather remarkable is it that with walls only about 3 ft. thick, they should still be firmly standing so much above the ground, as shown by our drawing.

As for ivy or other greenery there is not a vestige. This may be kept down by the owner to avoid more rapid decay ; certainly it seems strange to see a ruin like this perfectly devoid of. creepers of any kind. Apparently it is the nave of the chapel and perhaps part of the refectory that is left ; they, however, show evidence of having been richly decorated.

In two or three places are capitals of shafted columns clearly indicated from these and from the form of the windows the architecture may be characterized as Early English.

Near the Abbey is the old Newark Mill, quite a juvenile compared with its neighbour, but still in its way not less wanting in the picturesque. About half a mile north of the Abbey is Pirford Church, beautifully situated on a tree-clad knoll, which may well detain the wayfarer a few minutes, for from here is the finest view of the ruins, and behind several very picturesque buildings. One almost seems to identify in one or two old buttresses of the church some of the Abbey stone ; a sort of robbing Peter to pay Paul : this surmise may be entirely unfounded, but it certainly looks suspicious.

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