The Story Behind the Stones
From monastery to mansion, Forde Abbey has been occupied for nearly 900 years. This book describes the lives of the people who created the extraordinary but beautiful house we see today, a unique combination of mediaeval, late Gothic and Classical building. The first abbots, famous for their piety and learning, wielded power at court. Large estates and great wealth were acquired. The last abbot built a magnificent hall and tower, inadvertently saving the house from destruction at the hands of Henry VIII.
As a private house Forde became a trophy asset, until it found a saviour in the Puritan multi-millionaire Edmund Prideaux. The Prideaux dynasty fell into decline in the early nineteenth century, when the house was rented by the radical philosopher Jeremy Bentham and became again a hive of scholarship. House and estate were sold in 1846, finding a new saviour in Jane Evans, the Scottish widow of an MP with a colourful past who left her a small fortune.
When the Roper family inherited in 1906, the money was running out. They struggled through two world wars, even attempting to sell the famous Raphael tapestries. But in the past 50 years they have transformed the estate, restoring Forde Abbey to its former glory.
Large format sewn paperback with flaps
176 pages, illustrated throughout + 8 pages colour plates