Cambridgeshire - Thorney

Thorney Abbey

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St. Mary & St. Botolph, Thorney

The name 'Thorney' means an island covered in thorn bushes, Thorney, Isle of Ely, is only 15ft (5m) above sea level and once the only dry piece of land for miles around. Eventually discovere by Saxon monks, they built on it in about 662, the Danes then sacked their abbey, and it was rebuilt about 972, once again to be sacked, only this time when Hereward fought the Normans. The church of St. Mary and St. Botolph, originally that of the abbey was rebuilt in 1089-1108 by the Normans on a much grander scale. In 1638, when the Duke of Bedford began the reclamation of the Fens, he had the abbey church restored as a parish church of the village. it is in mixed styles of Norman and Perpendicular, and consists of nave of five bays with triforiam, transepts, north and south porches and two western turrets, one of which contains a clock and one bell, the transepts were added in 1840 and 1841. The stained east window represents, in 21 compartments, copied from windows in Canterbury Cathedral, the reputed miracles of Thomas a Becket. The west front, of massive Norman work, has square flanking towers, surmounted by panelled turrets of the Perpendicular period, reaching a height of 82 feet. Above the west window are niches with images and elaborate panelling. In 1888 the interior was restored and reseated.

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Last Updated on: 20 January 2000
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