Shaftesbury Abbey Museum and Garden
The museum is now closed until Saturday 23 March 2024.
Please explore our website and we look forward to seeing you in the Spring.
Admission is free, donations gratefully received to support this independent charity
Dogs on leads welcome. Gift Shop & Refreshments
Situated in a commanding position with views over the Blackmore Vale, close to the famous Gold Hill, the ruins of Shaftesbury Abbey lie in a peaceful walled garden. The museum brings to life the story of the abbey and the people who lived there.
In AD 888, King Alfred the Great founded in Shaftesbury the first great abbey just for women. His second daughter was installed as the first Abbess, and for six and a half centuries the community and buildings grew and flourished. By the time of Henry VIII this had become the wealthiest and most important Benedictine nunnery in England, dominating and serving the town and lands around.
It was the last abbey to be destroyed by Henry VIII in 1539. Only the foundations survive and items recovered in archaeological excavations are now displayed in the museum, alongside a digital representation of how the Abbey may have looked.