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Bourne Abbey was founded in 1138 by Baldwin FitzGilbert, who was the castellan of Bourne at that time. Having built the castle, he turned towards providing the town with a religious house which would double as the parish church. It is quite possible that the Abbey that he had constructed was built upon the earlier foundations of a Saxon church. Baldwin decided to invite the Arrouasian branch of the Augustinian Order to provide the religious foundation of the Abbey. The Augustinians were unique in that they always built their monastic buildings to north of their abbey; also, they provided one of their number to be the parish priest to minister to the needs of the parish. This would explain why the Abbey was not demolished after 1536, when the monastery was dissolved on the order of King Henry VIII. Although the monastic buildings were largely taken down, the nave of the Abbey remained virtually untouched, and became the parish church of Bourne with a secular priest taking over the parochial duties from his Augustinian predecessor. After the Civil War, it seems that the fabric of the Abbey was allowed to deteriorate. The earliest drawings of the west front indicate that by the early nineteenth century, the incomplete north tower of the western front had become roofless, and the northern door was bricked up. It took two major restoration scheme in 1869 and the 1880s to restore the Abbey to something of its pre-Reformation glory. Today, we are striving to continue this work of restoration and renovation, with a major scheme to make the toilets accessible from inside the Church, and to improve hospitality by introducing a more modern catering facility.
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