Rushen Abbey - Atlas Obscura

Rushen Abbey

Ballasalla, Malew

Centuries after this 12th-century abbey had fallen to ruin, it became known for the strawberries and cream served in its gardens. 


The Rushen Abbey is a former abbey located in the Ballasalla area of the Isle of Man, near the island’s Douglas Airport. The abbey was originally founded in 1134 by an order of monks of an order known as Savignac but later fell under control of the Cistercians, a Catholic religious order.

The abbey remained with the Cistercians until the order was dissolved in the 16th century under the strict rules set by King Henry VIII. Hoping to increase the income of the Crown, the king acquired and disposed of a number of assets associated with religious monasteries, priories, convents, and friaries across England, Wales, and Ireland.

In 1853, the Isle of Man government bought the Rushen Abbey site. Initially, there were plans to turn the former monastery into a mental institution, but those plans never came to fruition. Starting in the 20th century, the ruins of the Rushen Abbey became a popular place to visit. It became famous for the strawberries and cream served in its tranquil flower gardens and the popular tea dance nights hosted in a dance hall built on the site. In 1998, Rushen Abbey was purchased by the Manx National Heritage group. After many restorations what you see today became reality.

The Rushen Abbey site now boasts a museum and education center, an onsite café, picnic areas, preserved abbey ruins, and beautifully manicured gardens.

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October 7, 2022

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