About this image
This view was engraved from an earlier picture originally drawn in 1727 by an artist called Buck. It shows a rare view of the ruins of the main part of the Abbey (now demolished). In the background on the left is a tiny depiction of the 'hermit's cave'. The depiction of this indicates that the view is somewhat fanciful, because for the cave to be in this position, the picture must be looking south, which put the east window in the wrong position. Also, when compared to early maps of the area, the Abbey ruins are seen as a longer stepped oblong built away to the west of the east window, so this picture could be showing the square cloister.
Dale Abbey was a house of Premonstratensian Canons founded in 1204. They dedicated the Abbey to St Mary. This was after three previous groups had tried and failed to set one up. It was medium sized, housing an abbot plus 23 canons.
In 1538, during Henry the VIII's Reformation of the monasteries, the site was sold to Francis Pole of Radbourne. Only the arch (17 ft) of the great east chancel window remains, and was probably late 13th century. Excavations have shown that the church had transepts 100 ft in length, a crossing tower, south chancel chapel, an 85 ft square cloister and a nave of unknown length. The chapter house on the east side is still recognisable and the old Infirmary and Chapel, seen in DRBY002054.
Local legend has it that Alan a' Dale of Robin Hood's 'Merry men' came from this village and that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were married here (doubtful as they are supposed to have been married at Edwinstowe). Legend also has it that in the 12th century a baker saw a vision in which he was told to leave his work and his home and become a hermit in Depedale (the old name for the area). Having done so a knight took pity on him and paid for the building of a chapel. Further, a woman, known as the 'Gome of the Dale', subsequently took pity on him, extended the chapel and persuaded her nephew to found an abbey nearby.
This image is one of a collection by the famous local antiquarian, Thomas Bateman, of Middleton by Youlgreave. (1821-1861). Bateman organized his collection by inserting them into a 4 volume copy of Lysons Magna Britannia, Derbyshire, creating a fascinating and unique illustrated record of the county. The purchase of the collection for Derbyshire Libraries was made possible by the generous bequest of Miss Frances Webb of Whaley Bridge, well known local historian, who died in December 2006.