In Washford lies one of the undiscovered jewels of Somerset, providing an interesting day out for families and budding historians alike. The Cistercian abbey of Cleeve is a haven of peace and tranquillity, said to contain the finest cloister buildings in England.
Visitors today can catch a glimpse of monastic life 800 years ago; although the abbey church was destroyed by Henry VIII during the dissolution in 1536, the cloister buildings including the gatehouse, 15th century refectory with its glorious angel roof and 13th century heraldic tiles have survived remarkably intact.
The great dormitory is one of the best examples in the country, and an exhibition and virtual tour tells the story of the abbey and daily life for the holy men that once inhabited it.
You can find out more about a long-term research programme, the 'Cleeve Abbey Project', aimed at establishing the best ways of conserving the fragile wall painting and tiled floors for the future.
The abbey is located in a beautiful valley surrounded by countryside so is ideal for walkers or visitors travelling on the West Somerset Railway, which stops at Washford station. It is just a ten minute walk to Cleeve Abbey from the station and with your train ticket you can get a discount on your entry ticket.
Whatever the weather, there is plenty to explore at the Abbey and if sunny, there is lots of space for a picnic in the peaceful grounds with a stream running through them.
New for 2013 - you can now hire Cleeve Abbey as your wedding venue.
- The monks' dormitory, one of the finest examples left in Britain
- The magnificent architecture, carved angels and heraldic tiled floors
- Our story bag, 'Brother Cedric and the missing sheep', a fun way for families to explore the abbey together
- The 'Green Man' - ask the staff where he can be found!