Arms Rushen Abbey

Rushen Abbey

Rushen Abbey

Founded 1134, initially an offshoot of the Savignian house of Furness. Like others of this order came under Cistercian rule in 1147. The completed Abbey church was dedicated in 1257.

Grid Reference SC278702


plan The plan shows the site of the abbey occupying a rectangular site approx. 100 x 300m to the west of the Silverburn river. The surviving tower is shown to the north.

All Cistercian monestaries were built to a standard plan though there may be some small deviation to suit individual sites.

Possibly the first view is that by Daniel King, c.1650 titled "The Prospect of Balasaly Abby on the South West Side"

Prospect of Rushen Abbey

Little now remains other than the tower, a dovecote and the remains of a later guest house - much of the stone appears to have been used in the construction of a nearby house (later a hotel) though even Earl James was not above using some of the dressed stone in his additions to Castle Rushen.

sandstone lintel probably ex Rushen Abbey

At the beginning of the 20th century it was a very successful tourist attraction (an official Island postcard at the 1924 Empire Exhibition even showed the Rushen Abbey Hotel) - the nearby gardens provided fruit for a jam bottling plant which supplied the raw materials for manx cream teas.

Interior of Vinery

In the 1980's the grounds fell into disrepair - two inappropriate buildings, a steakhouse cafe and a nightclub, were erected on the gardens and the hotel closed. The grounds became a national disgrace but the owner refused to sell at a price Manx National Heritage would pay; the land was then acquired by the then owner of Bishopscourt with an eye to building some form of conference centre (modelled on a conjectural plan of the Abbey). This however caused such local furore that eventually the grounds were acquired in 1998 by Manx National Heritage - the Abbey is now open as a tourist attraction under MNH - an archaeological investigation of the site continues.

The Abbey came to control considerable property in several parishes though especially in Malew and around the Abbey in Ballasalla..


J.R.Bruce Manx Archaeological Survey - Sixth Report pp.13/7 Manx Museum & National Trust 1968, gives a full description
L.S.Garrad A History of Manx Gardens 1985 discuses the monastic gardens
J.G. Cumming The Story of Rushen castle and Rushen Abbey 1857
J.G.Cumming Rushen Abbey in the Isle of Man Manx Soc vol 15 pp36-55, 1868
W.C. Cubbon The Cistercian Order, and its Influence in the Isle of Man Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol 2 #4 p509/518

J.F Leroux-Dhuys Cistercian Abbeys History and Architecture Köhn: Könemann + Paris:Èditions Menegès 1998(ISBN 3-89508-894-3)



Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001