The Devon Rural Archive at Shilstone, near Modbury, kicks off its new season of historical lectures with a focus on Buckfast Abbey.

Buckfast Abbey, near Buckfastleigh, is celebrating its millennium this year, and the DRA is marking the milestone with a talk from building historian and author Peter Beacham, entitled ‘Buckfast Abbey: History, Art and Architecture’.

The talk will recount the extraordinary history of the Abbey and explore, with illustrations, the art and architecture of the site.

“As the Abbey is celebrating its millennium in 2018, we thought a feature on it would be a fitting way to open our new programme of evening lectures,” explained Abi Gray, Resident Archaeologist at the DRA.

“We have an exciting schedule of talks lined up, with topics as diverse as Killerton House, the early Victorians, Devon’s orchards and landscapes, the early 18th century author Joseph Pitts and decorative plasterwork amongst others.”

The first Abbey was founded on the site at Buckfast in the reign of King Cnut and was rebuilt in the 12th century as a Cistercian monastery. It fell into ruin after Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, but was painstakingly rebuilt from 1882 onwards by a group of exiled French Benedictine monks who settled there.

Over thirty years a group of four to six monks manually hoisted the stones to platforms 150 feet above the ground, without helmets or handrails and exposed to the elements, to rebuild the Abbey Church that is there today.

The lecturer, Peter Beacham, who has lived in Devon since 1967, worked as the first Conservation Officer for Devon County Council and as Heritage Protection Director for English Heritage, as well as serving as an Anglican priest in Exeter for 40 years.

He is chairman of the Devonshire Association Executive Committee and is a member of the Architectural Panel for the National Trust. He received an OBE in 2008 for services to the historic environment and has written numerous books on building history.

The talk take place on Thursday, February 1, at 7pm in the lecture theatre at the DRA, with refreshments available from 6.30pm. Tickets are £5 each and booking is recommended. Please contact Abi on 01548 830832 or [email protected] to book.

The Devon Rural Archive is located at Shilstone, near Modbury, PL21 0TW, and you can find out more about their upcoming talks on their website: