AKA My More Ancestors’ Intersections with the Histories of Waverley Abbey and Loseley Park:  The November 2019 Rabbit Hole, Part 1

My More Ancestors Waverley Abbey and Loseley Park

For me, part of the allure of attending RootsTech London was touring around southern England with my husband before the conference. We took in some gorgeous scenery as well as historical sites.

Unlike my trip in August 2015 when I’d drug (his word, not mine) my son to a dozen of the 700+ United Kingdom ancestral locations I’d identified, on this year’s trip, I’d only worked in Oxford, Canterbury, and Salisbury.

This year, I’d hoped to tour Loseley Park, the Surrey manor built by my 11x great grandfather, William More. Technically, he’d rebuilt it in 1561–69 after Elizabeth said he’d have to spruce it up a bit before she’d visit. [1]  On the 2015 morning my non-into-family-history son and I popped in to visit, we found the home closed to tours until the afternoon. (See also What Would my Ancestors Think of Me?)

Author at Lo5sely park in 201

Me at the Loseley house in 2015

I begrudgingly left to explore the Jurassic coast.

To my utter disappointment, Loseley Park was closed to visitors that Wednesday this 2019 October as well. (However, after learning that Loseley Park is featured in Midsomer Murders, I’ve subscribed to Britbox.)

Disappointed, I’d agreed with my husband that we’d return to London and relax, wash clothes, and get organized. But, as I drove up the M3, the signs flashing by pointed to familiar places. Particularly the one announcing “Farnham 15 miles.”

I pulled into a service area to renegotiate (read renege on) that go-straight-back agreement with my husband. It was a blue-skied day. We weren’t expected at our friends’ house for several hours. This part of Surrey was home to my More ancestors. My son and I had explored Farnham castle’s keep in 2015. It had made the list because my 10x great grandfather, George More, had been appointed constable there in 1565.

Since my AT&T international data plan was all but useless, I pulled up close to the service area’s Starbucks and hopped on their WIFI to search the English Heritage site. I looked for nearby places my ancestors might have roamed and found Waverley Abbey.

Waverley Abbey

Waverly Abbey was a Cistercian monastery founded along the River Wey in 1128. It’s now in ruins. (Click here to see Historic England’s Reconstruction Drawing.)


Waverley Abbey Dormitory

At its height (1187), Waverley Abbey had 70 monks and 120 lay brothers. In 1209, King John visited, Henry III followed suite in 1231.[2] According  English Heritage, “monks and lay brothers farmed the surrounding land, were active in the Cistercian wool trade and provided shelter for pilgrims and travelers and an infirmary for the sick.”[3]

Cistercian monks, I learned from reading placards throughout the ancient site, were dedicated to an austere agrarian lifestyle.

My Ancestors Connection to Waverley Abbey and Loseley Park

Sadly, in the sixteenth century, the British were not nearly as keen on preserving heritage as they are today.

Waverley Abbey

Though it had stood for 408 years and seen not only 11 monarchies, but the entire reign of the house of Plantagenet, the abbey was demolished with the Henry VIII’s Dissolution of Monasteries. [4]

As we roamed the idyllic setting I wondered, did my ancestors take a stroll along the River Wey and look at the remains? If so, what did they think about it all?

Later, as I read  more about the Abbey, I stumbled over a surprising sentence:

Much of the abbey was dismantled and some of the stone was reused to build Sir William More’s house at Loseley, a few miles to the east.[5]

Yes, there’s a connection between my More ancestors, Waverley Abbey and Loseley Park, the beautiful home built by my 11x great grandfather William More. The gorgeous property I’d toured.

Admittedly, I was (maybe still am) stuck in a 21st century mindset. How did my ancestors feel about using stones from a religious site in their family manor? About taking part of a monastery dedicated to austerity to build a decadent home.

Comparison of Waverley Abbey and Loseley Park

Obviously, I won’t ever know. But a little context could help me picture the circumstances. Stay tuned!

Next Post: Adding Context to the Portrait of my More Ancestors, Waverley Abbey and Loseley Park.

Your Turn

My More Ancestors, Waverley Abbey and Loseley Park pinnable image When have you wondered about what your ancestors felt about a period of history? How did you put those questions to rest? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


[1] “MORE, William II (1520-1600), of Loseley, Surr.,” The History of Parliament, Accessed November1, 2019, http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1509-1558/member/more-william-ii-1520-1600.

[2] “Waverly Abbey,” Visit Surrey, Accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.visitsurrey.com/things-to-do/waverley-abbey-p478701.

[3] “History of Waverly Abbey,” English-Heritage.org, accessed October 30, 2019, https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/waverley-abbey/history/.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

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