Often viewed mainly as places of peace and reflection, abbeys and monasteries now have so much more to offer group visitors.
Across the UK you will find many open their doors to allow opportunity to reveal the tales and stories of what was once one of the country’s most important pilgrimage destinations. And you do not have to have to be of a religious mind to appreciate and absorb the peace and serenity of these historic places.
Nestled on the southern slopes of Dartmoor mid-way between Plymouth and Exeter, Buckfast Abbey is one such popular attraction for groups. The Abbey is a working monastery where a community of Benedictine monks live self-sufficiently, whilst also welcoming visitors from all around the world.
At the heart of the site in a beautiful-wooded valley beside the River Dart is the Abbey Church, a centre of musical excellence and hosts choirs and performers from the local area and wider afield. Complementing the religious life of Buckfast Abbey is the Monastic Way Exhibition, an interactive attraction gives a fascinating insight into the lives of the monks at Buckfast along with a history of religious communities throughout Europe.
Many thousands of visitors come here each year to admire the church but also its surrounding gardens including The Sensory, Physic and award-winning Millennium Gardens which come alive with colour in the summer. The Lavender Garden in particular boasts 50 varieties.
The Abbey shops have an extensive range of unusual gifts, cards, books, food and drink. Many items are made by monks and nuns across the continent. Also on sale is Buckfast Abbey fudge,
hand-made in the monastery kitchens.
No visit would be complete without a stop at The Grange Restaurant. With the emphasis on locally produced ingredients, expect to find cream teas, home-made lunches, cakes and pastries available. The Grange has a glass-covered outside seating area providing great views of the gardens and the surrounding country-side. Entry to Buckfast Abbey is free with ample free parking available. Groups and coach parties are welcome with pre-booking necessary.
Northamptonshire in Central England is the home of an abbey with 900 years of exciting and turbulent history to uncover. Delapré Abbey is an urban country house nestled within 550 acres of parkland which only opened to the public for the first time in 2018.
Enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the Abbey as you explore its origins as a Clunnaic nunnery to witnessing key historic events. They include the 1460 Battle of Northampton during the Wars of the Roses and being a resting place for Queen Eleanor’s funeral cortege, before its heyday as a country house and then time as the County Record Office.
There are many opportunities to explore, relax and unwind with a fine suite of rooms, rustic Medieval areas, a gift shop and second-hand bookshop, extensive parkland, and a tranquil walled garden. Enjoy delicious, artisan food at The Orangery café and award-winning fine dining at Hibiscus.
Groups of 12 or more benefit from special discounted rates with bespoke group visits including the option of a guided tour by one of the knowledgeable volunteers or self-guided admission, both with delicious catering options.