The site of the Abbey was effectively an island in the marshy and frequently flooded Somerset Levels. There is believed to have been a religious building erected on the site as early as 693, with a charter being granted by Cynewulf in 762, although the Benedictine monks were not established there until the 10th century. Viking raids in the area damaged some of the fabric of the abbey and necessitated rebuilding. According to the 11th century Domesday survey, Benedictine Muchelney owned Muchelney, Midelney and Thorney islands. At that time in 1086 the abbey paid a tax of 6,000 eels a year caught from the local rivers and marshes. Much of the building was carried out in the 12th century. The abbot successfully appropriated the nearby Perry Moor and surrounding areas and was involved in their drainage and management. Around 1308 the abbey built The Priest's House for the parish priest. By the 16th century the Abbey included an Abbey Church, the demesne farm barton, an almonry, the parish church of St Peter and St Paul with its vicarage, and a Cross dating from the 15th century (moved in 1830 to near the parish church). The monastic church was built on the site of an early Saxon Church.
The Abbey is the second largest in Somerset after Glastonbury. The church is 192 feet (59 m) long and 52 feet (16 m) wide. Of the main building only some foundation walls remain. The south cloister walk and the north wall of a refectory are other surviving features. The south cloister includes remnants of the arcading and fan vault ceiling. The only intact structure is the Abbot's House with well-preserved architectural features including external stonework and inside a great chamber with ornate fireplace, carved settle and stained glass, and timber roof. Some of the wall paintings within the abbots house are in need of restoration. An unusual attraction is the nearby thatched two-storey monks' reredorter or lavatory, which is considered unique in Britain. A barn west of the abbey is a scheduled monument.
The whole of the ground floor and the grounds are accessible to wheelchair users. Where possible, the differing floor levels have been ramped, and the grounds have been sympathetically landscaped to allow wheelchair access. There are some uneven stone steps leading to the first floor of the house, however a virtual touch screen tour is available to visitors unable to access that level. Disabled visitors can be set down nearer to the site via the rear entrance. Please ring the site with advanced notice so that a staff member can be available to offer assistance. Assistance dogs are welcome. Water is available at the shop entrance upon request. Visitors are required to 'clean up' after their dogs. Many visitors with dogs come prepared but plastic bags are available from the reception area if needed. Tours given by a staff member are available if pre-booked. There is a handling collection of small archaeological finds available to all visitors upon request. Visitors with visual impairments are also encouraged to touch any surfaces they wish. There are accessible toilets.
Location : Muchelney, Langport, Somerset TA10 0DQ
Transport: Bridgwater (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : Somerset County 850 (Thu only); otherwise use First 54 to Langport (1 mile).
Opening Times : Daily 10:00 - 17:00
Tickets : Adults £5.60; Concessions £5.00; Children £3.40
Tel: 0370 333 1181