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
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.