We’ve made a couple of trips to Buckfast Abbey recently. It’s a great place to stop for a bite to eat and show visiting friends and family the Abbey en-route to Plymouth or the South Hams. But on our most recent visit, we decided to linger a little while and enjoy this tranquil and beautiful spot.
Buckfast Abbey history & buildings
Situated in the village of Buckfastleigh, Buckfast Abbey has been a site of worship for a thousand years and is currently celebrating its Millennium Year. The ‘modern’ Abbey, built largely between 1882 and 1932, is a striking and impressive building. Its grey and sandy-gold stone bricks catch the light beautifully whenever the sun is out. Sunset is a particularly beautiful time to go, as we recently found out on our way back from Dartmouth.
Inside the Abbey
White stonework arches and walls create a distinctive and beautiful environment that is very different to the yellower bricks seen in many cathedrals.
The simplicity of the white brick means that where there is colour, such as in the tiled floors or intricate gold ceiling mural, it is all the more striking.
Stained glass windows
Buckfast Abbey is famous for its stained glass windows. The most impressive of these are towards the rear of the church in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. It’s a really unique style of stained glass, with chunky coloured glass pieces inlaid in a thick black border. The effect when the light shines through is stunning and creates a really rich and vibrant colour.
The main feature window lies at the far end of the chapel, which is a place of quiet prayer and reflection. It’s an incredible sight and the scale of the window and the intensity of the colours are so unlike traditional stained glass.
Buckfast Abbey grounds and gardens
As well as the extensive lawns there are some more formal gardens at Buckfast, including a sensory garden. The gardens and grounds are often used for events including the summer food fayre which we went to last year.
Elsewhere on site, there is also a watermill, restaurant and a number of shops. When we went, the layout of the shops was a little different than we’re used to, as there are some works ongoing linked to the millennium celebrations. However, either in the main shop or in a separate monastic produce shop, you’ll find food, drink and gift items produced by the monks at Buckfast Abbey and at abbeys throughout Europe and beyond. We’ve been known to buy the odd beer, or spirit there. Purely in the pursuit of research of course! It’s here that you can also buy the famous Buckfast tonic wine (and less famous but seriously yummy Buckfast Abbey fudge).
For opening and service times please visit Buckfast Abbey.