Osney Abbey

Osney Abbey

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Osney Abbey

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Osney Abbey or Oseney Abbey, later Osney Cathedral, was a house of Augustinian canons at Osney in Oxfordshire. The site is south of the modern Botley Road, down Mill Street by Osney Cemetery, next to the railway line just south of Oxford station. It was founded as a priory in 1129, becoming an abbey around 1154. It was dissolved in 1539 but was created a cathedral, the last abbot Robert King becoming the first Bishop of Oxford. The see was transferred to the new foundation of Christ Church in 1545 and the building fell into ruin. It was one of the four renowned monastic houses of medieval Oxford, along with St Frideswide's Priory, Rewley and Godstow.


The house was founded by Robert D'Oyly the younger, Norman governor of Oxford, prompted by his wife, Edith Forne, who, to expiate the sins of her former life as the mistress of Henry I, solicited her husband to this pious work with a story of the chattering of magpies interpreted by a friar as souls in purgatory who needed a church in which to rest.

Edith was buried in Osney Abbey, in a religious habit, as John Leland describes upon seeing her tomb as it was on the eve of the dissolution: ‘Ther lyeth an image of Edith, of stone, in th' abbite of a vowess, holding a hart in her right hand, on the north side of the high altaire’. The legendary dream of magpies was painted near the tomb.

Osney was (along with St Osyth, Cirencester, Llanthony, and Holy Trinity, London), one of the great Augustinian houses of medieval...
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