Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: I

List Entry Number: 1235008

Date first listed: 18-May-1972



Ordnance survey map of QUARR ABBEY
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1235008 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 20-Apr-2019 at 04:15:32.



The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Fishbourne

National Grid Reference: SZ5621392726





I Benedictine monastery, incorporating an earlier detached house with stable courtyard. The north range incorporates the circa 1850 Gothic style former Quarr Abbey House with stable range to the west to which was added, in three phases between 1907 and 1914, a series of monastic buildings and church for a Benedictine order of monks designed by Dom Paul Bellot in Expressionist style. The Refectory, Dormitory, Chapter House and north, west and east sides of the cloisters were built in 1907, the Abbey church to the south was built between 1911-12 and the entrance block, including guest accommodation and south and south west sides of the cloister completed in 1914.

MATERIALS: The monastery is built entirely of Belgian bricks, in a mixture of bond patterns, with some structural concrete, some exposed concrete details and tiled roof. The incorporated earlier house and stable wing to the north are built in Isle of Wight squared, snecked, uncoursed stone rubble with slate roof.

PLAN: The north range comprises the existing house with attached stable courtyard to the west, to which was added, incrementally, the monastic buildings around a square cloister with refectory to the west; chapter house and dormitory to the east; entrance block including guest accommodation to the south; and church to the southwest. The church comprises an aisleless nave, the south western end with one bay porch and three bay accommodation for congregation, leading to five bays of a taller monk's choir. The massive northeast tower has the sanctuary beneath and is flanked by transepts with side chapels. There is a crypt underneath the east end.


CHURCH EXTERIOR: The Church, built in 1911-12, has a dramatic west elevation with massive pointed arch to the porch with a series of stepped inset panels rising to a stepped gable and similar panelled end piers with pyramidal caps. Behind the porch the south west end of the nave has pseudo-machicolations and end towers. The south-western tower has long insert panels and is surmounted by a circular, columned and louvred, bell turret with conical roof. The sides of the nave have machicolated parapets, pointed arched windows in groups of three at the top and triangular pointed windows to the base. The east tower has massive squared corner turrets, a machicolated parapet and four tall thin windows. The transepts have stepped gables with pyramidal caps to end piers and triangular openings.

INTERIOR: The congregation is divided from the monks choir by a series of transverse pierced arches with arched passages in the bases. The easternmost arch has pierced balustrading and decoration. Steps lead up to the monks choir which has undecorated lower walls concealing internal passages, internal arches in front of the windows and pierced ribbed arches defining the bays. The roof structure has a series of purlins. The sanctuary has four huge ribbed diagonal arches crossed in turn by four ribs connecting the centres of the four sides rising into the tower from concrete respond capitals. The transepts have elaborate entrances with gables, pierced hexagonal openings and almost Moorish arches. The northeast wall has eight pointed arches. A staircase with vaulted roof leads to a vaulted brick crypt with flat concrete roof under the northeast end of the church.

ENTRANCE BLOCK AND GUEST ACCOMMODATION EXTERIOR: Constructed in 1913-14 this is attached to the church at the southwest end and comprises a long range of two to three storeys. The northern part of the southwest front is of identical brickwork to the church with triangular headed arches, the southern part has flat-arched casements with concrete lintels, triangular buttresses and four arched doorcases. The principal feature is a projecting North German, or Dutch, type stepped gable with square topped ribbed panel complementing the church porch and large arched opening with oak door. The north west elevation has a corresponding projecting stepped gable with a clock face to one side pier, but the ground floor was integrated into the existing cloisters and has almost Moorish triple triangular-headed arches with lozenge-shaped cutouts above. The range attached to the north-east is of two storeys only with small triangular-headed windows above and the same elaborate cloister arches below.

INTERIOR: Not inspected.

DORMITORY, CHAPTER HOUSE, REFECTORY AND NORTH, WEST AND EAST CLOISTERS: These monastic buildings were all built in 1907 and comprise a dormitory wing at the east side of the cloisters which incorporates a chapter house, a refectory wing at the west side of the cloisters and the north cloister which links both monastic blocks and is attached to the southwest side of the mid C19 Quarr Abbey House.

The dormitory block is of three to four storeys with gables and three tall panelled chimneystacks. The southwest side has top floor paired triangular headed casements divided by blank panels. There are flat-arched windows with concrete lintels and arched openings. At the southern end is a projecting single-storey chapter house which has arched openings, divided by pilasters and gabled ends. There are similar windows to the northeast side. The chapter house interior is of four bays with simple transverse arches.

The refectory wing on the west side of the cloisters is of two storeys, the upper floor with cambered arches divided by pilasters, the ground floor on the north east side incorporating the pointed brick arches of the west cloisters, partially interrupted by a tall narrow gabled bellcote. On the southwest side there are blank cambered arches to the upper floor and the penticed roof of the lower floor pierces the pilasters and has a series of pointed arched windows. The refectory has wide transverse arches with alternating colours of brick, pierced decorations, capitals and corbels in concrete, together with a single freestanding column. There is a hexagonal brick pulpit on concrete base and square brick piers. The cloisters are single-storey with transverse arches, one section with stepped capitals.

REMAINS OF QUARR ABBEY HOUSE AND ATTACHED STABLE RANGE EXTERIOR: The former Quarr Abbey House now forms the north range of Quarr Abbey. It comprises an L-shaped range of two storeys, the northern end having two full-height projecting gables with kneelers, the northernmost with canted bay, the other with five-light mullioned and transomed casements. The L-wing terminates in a pavilion like structure with stepped gables on three sides and mullioned and transomed windows. The other range of two storeys, facing south-west, was the service end and has plainer mullioned windows with yellow brick dressings. It is attached to a plainer stable courtyard, mainly of one storey but with a taller gabled entrance to the west with arched entrance.

INTERIOR: The former Quarr Abbey House retains coloured glass to two window bays, a hall with arched opening and arched fireplace with C19 tiles and there are two Gothic style fireplaces, one with painted shields, probably of the Cochrane family.

HISTORY: The medieval Quarr Abbey was founded in 1132 by Baldwin de Redvers for monks from Savigny in France and became part of the Cisterian Order in 1147. The monastic buildings were situated to the north west of the current Quarr Abbey. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries Quarr Abbey passed to John Mill, a Southampton merchant, and stone from the monastic buildings was reused in local buildings.

The 1864 Ordnance Survey map shows a large house called Quarr Abbey House on the northern part of the site of the present Quarr Abbey. This was built as the residence of Sir Thomas John Cochrane (1789-1872), who rose to fame in the Napoleonic Wars as a young naval commander and was eventually made Admiral of the Fleet in 1865, died at Quarr Abbey House and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.

Following French anti-clerical legislation of 1st July 1901 Abbot Paul Delatte (1848-1937) of the Benedictine Abbey of Solesmes sent a monk to England to find a house for the community. On 19th August 1901 a lease contract was signed on Appuldurcombe House at Wroxall on the Isle of Wight. In 1907 the Order acquired contacted Quarr Abbey House and its estate. One of the Order, Dom Paul Bellot (1876-1944) was a qualified architect from the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and he drew up plans for the new abbey which incorporated the existing Quarr Abbey House.

The building of the refectory, dormitory, chapter house and three sides of the cloisters began in 1907 and was completed within a year by 300 builders from the Isle of Wight. After this the monks moved to Quarr Abbey, at first using a temporary wooden church moved from Appuldurcombe. In April 1911 work began on the abbey church and it was consecrated on October 1912. The entrance block, including guest accommodation and the south and south west sides of the cloister were finished in 1914. In 1922 the community of Solesmes returned to France but a small community of monks was left at Quarr and became an independent house, first a priory then, from 1937, an abbey, and gradually English monks were recruited to the community.

SOURCES: D Lloyd and N Pevsner, The Buildings of England - Isle of Wight (2006) p215-218. C Martin, A Glimpse of Heaven (English Heritage 2006) p162-163. Dictionary of National Biography entry for Sir Thomas John Cochrane. Quarr Abbey Website.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: * Architecturally, the design of the church, entrance block including guesthouse, chapter house and refectory demonstrate exceptional innovation, originality and spatial quality; * It is unique in England among monastic buildings as a pioneer building of C20 Expressionism, with influences from Berlage and de Clerk in Holland and Gaudi in Spain, which have been fused in a unique combination with earlier Spanish ecclesiastical and even Moorish influences, particularly from the mosque at Cordoba; * The architect's virtuoso use of brickwork and early use of exposed concrete roofs, lintels and capitals is exceptional; * Quarr Abbey was the outstanding achievement of the architect, Dom Paul Bellot who also built monastic buildings on the continent of Europe and Canada. * The abbey church was considered by Nikolaus Pevsner to have the finest interior of any building on the Isle of Wight; * Quarr Abbey incorporated an existing mid C19 house which has historical interest as the home of Sir Thomas John Cochrane (1789-1872).


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 411110

Legacy System: LBS

End of official listing