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Wilton Abbey

In the civil parish of Wilton.
In the historic county of Wiltshire.
Modern Authority of Wiltshire.
1974 county of Wiltshire.
Medieval County of Wiltshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU098310
Latitude 51.07806° Longitude -1.86026°

Wilton Abbey has been described as a Masonry Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a Fortified Ecclesiastical site although is doubtful that it was such.

There are no visible remains.


In the Civil War of Stephen, the King was about to fortify the nunnery, in order to check the garrison which Maud, the Empress, had at Old Sarum, when Robert Earl of Gloucestershire, the Empress' chief supporter, unexpectedly set the town of Wilton on fire, and so frightened the King away. (Timbs and Gunn)

The exact site of the abbey is not recorded, although it is reputed to have stood a little to the west of the later Wilton House. (VCH 1962)
There are, however, indications that the peace of the cloister at Wilton was much disturbed by the turmoils of the Anarchy. In 1141 the empress was probably at Wilton and there had her meeting with Archbishop Theobald, and tradition has it that two years later the nunnery was fortified by Stephen. (VCH 1956)

There is documentary evidence that a castle was begun at Wilton in 1143 but not completed. (PastScape ref King 1983)

The suggestion the nunnery was being fortified maybe a misinterpretation of the Chronicles which may have had a deliberate bias. It seems likely the Nunnery was used as a temporary royal residence (a quite normal procedure) but fortification may have been slight and concentrated on the existing Wilton town defences.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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