Cockersand-Abbey

COCKERSAND-ABBEY, an extra-parochial liberty, in the union of Lancaster, hundred of Lonsdale south of the Sands, N. division of the county of Lancaster, 7 miles (S. W. by S.) from Lancaster. The earliest notice connected with the celebrated abbey of Cockersand, appears to be in the charter of William de Lancaster, who granted to Hugh, a hermit, certain lands and his fishery upon the Lune, to maintain an hospital. This was followed by other grants; and Theobald Walter, among other donors, gave to the hospital the moss of Pilling. A grant was subsequently obtained from the abbey at Leicester, and in 1190 Pope Clement III. elevated the house into a monastery, as the abbey of St. Mary, of the Præmonstratensian order, of Cockersand. The numerous grants which followed extended its possessions very widely, and in point of revenue it ranked the third among the religious houses of Lancashire; yet in a petition, 2nd Richard II., for a confirmation of their charters, the monks style themselves "the king's poor chaplains," and "pray for a consideration of their poverty, and that they are daily exposed to the perils of drowning and destruction by the sea." On the Dissolution the site was leased by the crown, and afterwards became possessed by various families, among whom, in the reign of Philip and Mary, were the Daltons, to which family it continues to belong. The ruins of the abbey stand on a neck of land which projects into the sea on the sands of Cocker. Originally the buildings covered nearly an acre of land, but the octagonal chapter-house, 30 feet in diameter, used for the burial-place of the Daltons, alone remains; and the windows of even this small portion no longer retain their glass: a finely clustered column in the centre of the interior supports moulded arches resting upon smaller columns of the angles. The area of the ruins is strewed with parts of walls, massive stones, and obliterated ornaments. The site is a rock of red friable freestone, which might once have fortified it against the encroachments of the sea, but which is now often beaten against by the fury of the tides, and the bones of the cemetery washed away.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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