Stanbrook Abbey History

Every hotel has a past, but few with one as present as ours - welcome to Stanbrook Abbey. This is our story so far.

Begin your future in history

Once a place of worship, Stanbrook Abbey is the former home of the Second English Benedictine Congregation Nuns from 1838 up until 2009. The Abbey is no longer a religious establishment and has since been transformed into an inspiring hotel and events venue allowing others to appreciate the magnificence of what it once was and still is today.

From the beginning

The closed order of Benedictine Nuns originated from a party of eight young women who went to France in 1623 to train under the control and jurisdiction of monks. Funds for the foundation were provided by Mr Cresacre More, whose daughter Helen later became a Nun whose family crest can still be seen today in the Thompson Dining Hall.

Due to the disbanding of monasteries, the nuns returned to England with the help of Edward Constable in 1795 after spending the last 18 months of their time in France in captivity. They eventually acquired 22-acres of land and the 1755 Georgian Manor House, Stanbrook Hall. However this could not be done in their own names, and so Doms Birstall, Bardber, Hepenstall and Scott purchased the site as joint tenants and only after the deeds were signed did the owner realise it was to become a Nunnery.

As time went on

The residents of the Nunnery slowly but surely began expanding their home and place of worship. The enlargement of Stanbrook Hall, however, hadn’t gone down so well with the nuns, so in 1860 it was time for a change. The sons of Augustus Pugin – the architect who we have to thank for the floor tiles, stained-glass windows, metalwork and furnishings of the Houses of Parliament – were commissioned to provide some of their family’s signature Gothic style to the redevelopment. Over the following twenty years the Pugin family created the church, cloisters, towers and more, leaving their very Gothic stamp on the beautiful Stanbrook Abbey.

Our story continues

If you were to have visited Stanbrook Abbey over the last few 150 or so years you may have brushed shoulders with the likes of poet W. H. Auden, and author and philosopher Iris Murdoch. Enchanted by the nearby Malvern Hills, writers put pen to paper, musicians began to compose and artists picked up their paintbrushes. From medieval poet William Langland through to J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, the countryside around Stanbrook Abbey has inspired many a creative mind.

The Abbey provided so much inspiration to one particular musician that from 1962 to 1974 it became her home. The celebrated musician Mary O’Hara, after losing her husband to an early death, joined the convent at the height of her career, seeking solace. However Mary became ill, and had to leave the convent in 1974 and in the following twenty years went on to produce 13 more albums before retiring from music in 1994.

And it’s still going on today…

In 2009 the nuns moved to a more energy efficient home in Wass, on the edge of the moors in North Yorkshire, after deciding that the cost of looking after the building was too high and hindered their monastic lifestyle. That’s when we stepped in. 56 bedrooms (including 51 new suites in the Abbey itself), a new luxurious bar and 19 stunning function rooms later, and we have the amazing venue that stands today. The incredible 109ft Bell Tower, extensive gardens, orchard and willow lake continue to provide inspiration for writers, artists and people looking to celebrate a special event with a taste of elegant luxury and a richness in history.

Stay with us

Come and experience our unique history and quirky charm first hand during an exciting stay at Stanbrook Abbey.

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