Penrith, Cumbria CA10 3NB
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Shap Abbey was founded in the late 12th century in a secluded and beautiful valley of the River Lowther.
THE PREMONSTRATENSIANS AND SHAP ABBEY
The Premonstratensian Order had been founded by St Norbert in Prémontré in northern France in 1120. Living a contemplative monastic life, these canons also served the local community as priests in nearby parishes. They were known as the ‘white canons’ because of their distinctive white woollen habits.
Shap Abbey was founded in about 1200 by a local baron called Thomas, son of Gospatric, who granted the canons land beside the river Lowther. A walled precinct with an outer gatehouse enclosed the monastic buildings, abbey mill and fishponds.
Shap was a relatively small community, only about 12 canons governed by an abbot, but it was rich, with lands donated by powerful northern families such as the Vieuxponts and the Cliffords. Apart from some Scots raids causing damage in the 14th century, its history was largely uneventful.