Stories from the Broads’ St Benet’s Abbey on show at record office

Stories from St Benet's Abbey, an exhibtion on show at Norfolk Record Office. Curator Anne Lovejoy.P

Stories from St Benet's Abbey, an exhibtion on show at Norfolk Record Office. Curator Anne Lovejoy.Photo: Steve Adams

Power, wealth, rebellion, ghosts, dragons, legends, art, a cricket match and even a hanging - St Benet's Abbey in the heart of The Broads, has it all.

St Benets abbey from the River Bure, similar view to John Sell Cotman's painting of 1831Photo: Bill

St Benets abbey from the River Bure, similar view to John Sell Cotman's painting of 1831Photo: Bill Smith. - Credit: Archant © 2010

A consecrated site for more than a thousand years, its tranquillity belies its dramatic and influential past and now a new Norfolk Record Office (NRO) exhibition celebrates stories from its past and present.

Produced in collaboration with the Norfolk Archaeological Trust, the exhibition is at The Archive Centre, at County Hall in Martineau Lane, Norwich.

St Benet's Abbey has recently been the subject of the Norfolk Archaeological Trust's (NAT) Conservation, Access and Community project, substantially funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Sir Christopher Howes, a trustee of the Norfolk Archaeological Trust, said: 'I am pleased that the Crown Estate's disposal of the St Benet's Abbey site to the Norfolk Archaeological Trust in 2002 has helped this wonderful revival of interest in, and care for, St Benet's Abbey.

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'I sense that more activity has taken place at the site during the past two years than during the previous 500 years. Yet St Benet's still retains its remoteness, tranquillity and mysterious sense of place. This exhibition so admirably complements the outstanding Conservation, Access and Community Project.'

Documents, artefacts and art will guide visitors through various aspects of the site's history and help to explain its influence and importance.

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The curator of the exhibition, Anne Lovejoy, Norfolk Record Office archivist, said: 'We were delighted to be given the opportunity to work with the Norfolk Archaeological Trust to host this exhibition. Working with colleagues at the Castle Museum and Art Gallery and Norfolk Libraries we've brought together a really interesting and diverse collection of artefacts and documents to tell the stories of St Benet's Abbey. And several volunteers from the Conservation, Access & Community Project have contributed research and written parts of the exhibition guide, which I'm really pleased about.

'St Benet's has such a rich and varied history, and it is clear how important the site is to so many people, both to the local community but also to the many visitors – artists, writers, antiquarians, holidaymakers – who have been inspired by St Benet's.'

Caroline Davison, who managed the project for the Norfolk Archaeological Trust, said: 'It was clear right from the start how much the abbey is loved and cherished by local people, as well as visitors, and this was reflected in the number of volunteers who have dedicated time and effort to the project over the last two years. It's a fascinating and atmospheric place, and hopefully the exhibition will inspire people to come and visit.'

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of lunchtime talks and half-term children's activities. For more details of these and all other events, please see or call 01603 222599.

Do you have a story about Norfolk's heritage? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772474 or email

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