When Augustine and his group of Christian missionaries were sent to England at the end of the 6th century by Pope Gregory of Rome, their mission must have seemed a daunting one. Paganism and Heathenism had taken a strong hold in England at the end of the Roman occupation, and many churches had fallen derelict. Augustine restored some of the old churches in Kent, and founded the first English monasteries at Canterbury. But it was with the Norman Invasion that many more abbeys were created and, by the mid-14th century there were some 1,000 houses of varying denominations.

Over the last 800 years the vast majority of these buildings have disappeared, most notably as a result of the Dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, completed by 1540. Today, less than one third of the abbeys exist in some form or other. A few continued in their role as cathedrals, and about one hundred of the monastic churches remained in use after the monks had gone, and the conventual buildings had been demolished.

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Tintern Abbey, South Wales
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Tintern Abbey
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