Located on the outskirts of the town, Beeleigh Abbey is one of Maldon’s most historic buildings, dating back to the 12th century and is located close by Beeleigh Falls.
Constructed in 1180, the abbey was made as a monastery for the Premonstratensians religious order (also known as the White Canons), and established by order of “Lord of the Manor of Little Maldon”, Robert Mantell.
Whilst the location would be popular with pilgrims (including King Edward I and Queen Elanor) for being home to the buried heart of former Bishop of London Saint Roger Niger of Beeleigh, it would last in its religious form for under four hundred years, as 16th-century monarch King Henry VIII embarked on what is known as the ‘Suppression of the Monasteries’.
By the 18th century, the building had become a public house (after transitioning through farming and market farming periods), but had over time become more of an abandoned ruins until 1912, when a restoration project led by Captain F. W. Grantham began. In 1943, the site found permanent stability in the form of William Foyle, owner of the Foyles bookshop franchise, who purchased the now-restored building and its surrounding land.
Since then, Beeleigh Abbey has been a private residence of the Foyle family with private tour group viewings available on a small number of select dates, and further restoration and archaeological research on the site (which included the creation of a myth that the original builders had constructed a still-functional emergency escape tunnel to the All Saints Church) has earned commendation from conservationists, most notably winning the 2008 ‘National Conservation Award’ for best-restored historical building in the entire UK.