Buckfast Abbey is one of just a few remaining Benedictine monasteries left in modern Britain. Having been constructed without modern aid by monks using wooden scaffolding held together with rope, the Gothic and Romanesque styling of the abbey is a marvel that took just over 30 years to complete, from 1907 to 1938, with never more than 6 monks working on the structure at a time.
The first abbey in Buckfast, founded in 1018, was also a Benedictine monastery. It served as a place of worship and was home to around two dozen monks at any one time until it was reported for dissolution (the demolition of a monastery) in 1539. The surrounding lands were used as a stone quarry for four centuries until the site of the abbey was bought in 1882 by six French Benedictine monks, who had been exiled from their own country for their religious practice. Together, they laid the foundations for the reconstruction of an abbey atop the ruins of the old monastery, and continued working throughout the First World War in order to complete it.
As was common amongst many medieval monasteries, the monks at Buckfast were keen bee keepers. The practice continued for many years until early in the 20th century, when a disease wiped out most of the bee colonies across Britain. One monk, Brother Adam, had the idea of cross-breeding the surviving British black bee population with the Italian country bee, which was incredibly resistant to the disease that had wiped out many black bees. Brother Adam quickly became an international authority on bee keeping as he travelled over 100,000 miles to gather and document the world’s various bee species. Buckfast Abbey continues, to this day, to flourish as an apiary.
The locally-famous recipe for “Buckfast” (the brand of wine) was brought to Britain with the French monks in the 20th century, where they mixed European mistellas (fortified wines) with their own tonic ingredients and herbs to produce their popular drink. The wine continues to be brewed at Buckfast Abbey using the same recipe using imported French mistellas from across the Channel.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
B3196 (Road / Just Off) Modbury, Ivybridge
Devon, England, PL21 0SG
+44 (0)1548 821 297
- Address: Buckfast Road, Buckfastleigh, Devon TQ11 0EJ, UK
- GPS: 50.49289017024582,-3.7757595227539013
- Phone: 0044 (0)1364 645 500
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: TQ11 0EE
- Entrance Fees: Free Access
- Disabled Access: Good
- Visibility from Road: Good
- Image Credits: Morriss