History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
From simple beginnings Furness grew and prospered. Over the next several centuries the abbey received endowments and accumulated properties until by the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries it was the second wealthiest monastery in England, after Fountains Abbey. The monks built a harbour on Walney Island for shipping iron and wool, and founded a castle on Piel Island to guard the harbour. They also built a castle at Dalton to serve as a court house and administrative centre. So you can see that Furness was not simply a quiet place for monks to live, work, and pray, but the centre of a bustling commercial, legal, and administrative empire.
Like so many other great monastic foundations Furness suffered at the hands of Henry VIII's commisioners, and the end came on 9 April 1537. The abbey was destroyed, and building stone removed, but enough remains to give us a clear idea of just how rich and powerful Furness was in its heyday. After the Dissolution Furness was sold into private hands. The abbots house was used as a dwelling by the High Sheriff of Cumberland. The abbey estate was annexed to the Duchy of Lancaster in 1540, and the house leased to tenants.
I seldom mention on-site museums in these articles - usually because there's not much to say about them! But in the case of Furness Abbey I must make an exception. I thought the museum, located in the visitor centre where you enter the site, was exceptional. There was such a wealth of detail and excellent displays of historic artefacts found on the site that I really felt I gained some insight into the history and development of Furness.
About Furness Abbey
Address: Manor Road, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England, LA13 0PJ
Attraction Type: Abbey
Location: 1½ miles N of Barrow-in-Furness off A590
Website: Furness Abbey
Phone: 01229 823420
English Heritage - see also: English Heritage memberships (official website)
OS: SD 218717
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Bow Bridge - 0.4 miles (Historic Building)
Dalton Castle - 1.5 miles (Castle)
Piel Castle - 5.1 miles (Castle)
Swarthmoor Hall - 5.3 miles (Historic House)
Hoad Monument - 6.6 miles (Historic Building)
Holker Hall - 9.5 miles (Historic House)
Duddon Iron Furnace - 10.4 miles (Historic Building)
Swinside Stone Circle - 10.4 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Nearest Accommodation to Furness Abbey: