Ancient Quarr

The ancient abbey of Quarr was founded in 1132 by Baldwin de Redvers, later Lord of the Island and Earl of Devon. He brought monks from Savigny Abbey, in Normandy, France, to the island for the monastery.

The abbey took its name from the quarry to the east of it. It had a library and an infirmary: some of the monks were doctors and pharmacists who tended islanders. The abbey maintained the bridge at Wootton, tide mills and salterns (for producing salt). It had an establishment at the entrance to Wootton Creek at Fish-house, now Fishbourne, from which its ships could sail. Monks from Quarr were responsible for many surrounding granges (large agricultural establishments) and churches, including for a time Saint Nicholas' chapel at Carisbrooke Castle.

In 1147 the whole congregation of Savigny, including Quarr Abbey, joined the Cistercian congregation.  Foundations were made from Quarr Abbey at Stanley in Wiltshire in 1154 and at Buckland in Devonshire in 1278. Following the French attack on the Isle of Wight in 1377, the Abbey fortified Fish-house and the mill on Wootton Creek; a few gun-ports were set into the enclosure wall facing north.

Despite the good reputation of its monks, the Abbey was closed under King Henry VIII in July 1536. The last abbot, with one of his monks, crossed the Solent to resume their religious life at Beaulieu, while two other monks went off to Quarr’s daughter house at Buckland. The abbey was purchased and demolished by Mr John Mills of Southampton. Some of its stone was used for building Yarmouth Castle.