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Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Sweetheart Abbey a 13th Century Love Story - What is the Connection To Oxford University?

Sweetheart Abbey


Nestling on the edge of the charming village of New Abbey is the very lovely Sweetheart Abbey. As it sits just after a bend in the road I always try to have a good look at it when I drive past, and no matter what the weather, it never loses its appeal. The Abbey was commissioned in 1273 for the Cistercian order of monks by Lady Devorgilla of Galloway, as a memorial to her husband, John.
This was the last of twelve Cistercian Monasteries to be built in Scotland, thus giving the name of New Abbey to the village.
The monastery was designed in the shape of a cross.

John was one of the wealthiest people in Europe,
Devorgilla and John were utterly devoted to one another, and she was heartbroken at his death, in 1269
She had a casket made of ivory and silver, where John's embalmed heart was placed, and kept by her side at all times.

Devorgilla died in 1289, and is buried along with her precious ivory casket and its contents, in Sweetheart Abbey, where her tomb can be seen to this day.

What is the connection between Oxford University, and Sweetheart Abbey?

Devorgilla's husband John came from Barnard Castle in the North of England. He also had another estate in England, and yet others in France. But he and Devorgilla loved each other very much, and he decided to live with her in the south of Scotland. This was a time of great happiness for the couple, as they brought up their young family. It was also a period of stability for the area.

Whilst they were extremely wealthy people, they were also great benefactors. John had decided that he wanted to establish a college at Oxford. He also provided funds for the education of needy students there.

Thus, we have the connection with Oxford University.

The name of Devorgilla's husband was John Balliol. The College, is the world famous Balliol College.

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