Anglesey Abbey is a country house, formerly a priory, in the village of Lode, 5 1⁄2 miles northeast of Cambridge. A community of Augustinian canons built a priory here, known as Anglesea or Anglesey Priory, some time during the reign of Henry I (i.e., between 1100 and 1135), and acquired extra land from the nearby village of Bottisham in 1279. The canons were expelled in 1535 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The former priory was acquired around 1600 by Thomas Hobson, who converted it to a country house for his son-in-law, Thomas Parker, retaining a few arches from the original priory. At that time the building's name was changed to "Anglesey Abbey", which sounded grander than the original "Anglesey Priory". In the late 18th century, the house was owned by Sir George Downing, the founder of Downing College, Cambridge.
The name Anglesey is not a reference to the Welsh island known as Anglesey in English, although the two names do have some etymology in common. Anglesey Priory was built on what was, before improvements in the drainage of the area, an island. In both place names, as in many other place names in Britain, the final -ey is from a Germanic word meaning 'isle'. In the case of the Welsh island, Angle- is from an Old Norse word ǫngull, which is either a personal name, or a word meaning 'angle' or 'corner'. In the case of the Priory, Angle- is probably a reference to the Angles, a Germanic people who invaded the east of England in the 5th century. The anterior origin of this name is debatable, with some versions linking it to 'angle', a reference to the shape of their homeland, and others claiming a reference to 'angling'. However, it is likely that the name refers to the fact that the Fens and its islands were home to a native British (Brythonic) population, and that the Angles were an island community within a predominantly Celtic landscape.
A watermill probably stood on the site of Lode Mill at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086. The Mill which stands today is likely to have been built in the eighteenth century. In 1793 the mill was described in a sale notice as 'Anglesea Watermill with dwelling house, yard, garden, barn, stables and outhouse and 3 acres of pasture adjoining'. Old photographs show the house next to the mill. The house was taken down in the renovation of the 1930s. In about 1900 the mill was converted from corn grinding to cement grinding. The cement was generally made by firing a mixture of clay and lime or natural chalk at about 400°C and grinding the resulting clinker into a powder. An engine may have been installed at this time, as inside the mill today there are some shafts, gears and a chain drive that are unusual in a watermill.
The mill was owned by the Bottisham Lode Cement and Brick Company. Bottisham Lode is the stretch of water below the mill, one of a number of lodes that were used as a transport link to the River Cam. The water above the mill is called Quy Water. Unfortunately, the Bottisham Lode Cement and Brick Company was a victim of competition and the business had closed down by about 1920, leaving the mill to become derelict. In 1926 Anglesey Abbey was bought by Huttleston Broughton, later Lord Fairhaven. In 1934 he acquired the mill and restored it to its original corn milling condition. This was completed in 1935-36, after removal of the mining and cement making equipment. In 1978 the Cambridgeshire Wind and Watermill Society restored the mill to working order and in 1982 it was once again milling corn. Freshly ground flour can be bought direct from the chute or in the Gift Shop in the Visitor Centre.
Huttleston Broughton fully restored the house, which had fallen into disrepair, and began to collect beautiful furniture, artworks and statuary. All of these can be seen at the Abbey today. Broughton (full name Urban Huttleston Rogers Broughton) was born in 1896 in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. His father, Urban Broughton, had amassed a considerable fortune. His mother was Cara Leland Rogers the daughter of multimillionaire American oil magnate Henry Huttleston Rogers. Rogers had died unexpectedly in 1909 and Urban Broughton had taken over the management of a large part of the Rogers empire. The Broughton family had moved to England in 1912 when Huttleston was sixteen. They lived in Park Lane, Mayfair. Huttleston was educated at Harrow and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. He served during the First World War, and retired from the military in 1924. He obtained the title Baron Fairhaven in 1929. One of Huttleston’s great achievements was the establishment of the garden at the house. In 1964, when Broughton was still living, Lanning Roper wrote a book entitled The Gardens of Anglesey Abbey, in which he described the careful planning of this remarkable garden with its many vistas, avenues, rare and common trees, pools, statues and river temples.
The extensive landscaped gardens are popular with visitors throughout the year. The most visited areas include the rose garden and the dahlia garden, which contain many dozens of varieties. Out of season the spring garden and winter dell are famed nationally, particularly in February when the snowdrops first appear. The lawns of the South Park are mown less frequently and this allows the many wildflowers to flower and set seed. Separate mobility parking, 50yds from visitor centre. Adapted toilet at visitor centre and near house. Braille guides are available in the house. Large print guides are available in the house as well as an Induction loop. Wheelchair transfer available. Hard gravel paths around grounds, undulating terrain. Map of accessible route. Five single-seater PMVs, booking essential. Staff-driven multi-seater vehicle. Limited wheelchair access to the ground floor. Stairs with handrail to the first floor. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Quy Road, Lode, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB25 9EJ
Transport: Cambridge (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 6 stops nearby in Lode.
Opening Times : Wednesday to Sunday + Bank Holidays 11:00 to 17:00
Tickets Whole Property: Adults £12.45; Children £6.45
Tickets Mill + Gardens: Adults £7.15; Children £4.05