Glenstrup Abbey Church

Fårup, Denmark

Glenstrup Abbey, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was founded about 1125 as a Benedictine monastery. The nobleman Svend Bo and his wife Inger Thott gave property and several farms to support it in the mid-12th century. It was built on the site of a holy spring called Maria's Spring in medieval times. The location was a religious one in Viking times and the abbey was most likely constructed on the site of a stave chapel built to Christianize the place in the late 11th century.

The monastery was built in the traditional three ranges attached to a church as a four-sided enclosure. The massive Romanesque tower was an unusual feature on the west front of the abbey church. At its height the abbey owned many farms, two mills, and several churches from which it collected tithes. It also owned the permanent rights to fish eels from the lake, where it built a permanent eel trap. It also had the rights to income from the fair or market held on Lady Day, which was held in nearby fields as late as 1552.

The abbey however eventually entered a long slow decline which culminated in its closure in 1431. Although records are sparse, this was apparently caused by a combination of lack of revenue and declining religious standards which meant that there were no novices. Ulrik, Bishop of Aarhus, decided that the house had become unruly and that to maintain it would cost the diocese more than it brought in; the last Benedictine monks were therefore removed, and an effort made to interest another order in the premises.

At the suggestion of King Eric of Pomerania, Bishop Ulrik gave the abbey and the income properties from the recently closed priory of Our Lady in Randers to the Carthusian Orderfor the establishment of a new charterhouse in the Diocese of Aarhus in 1429. The Carthusians settled briefly at the vacant Glenstrup Abbey, creating Glenstrup Charterhouse, but abandoned the site by 1441.

Bishop Ulrik then tried to re-establish a Benedictine community, but the attempt was short-lived, and the Benedictines left Glenstrup for the last time before 1445.

Bishop Ulrik then gave the abbey and its attendant properties to the newly-established Bridgettine Mariager Abbey. The Bridgettines were seen in the mid-15th century as a reforming order capable of restoring the religious zeal that many religious houses had lost and re-establishing the strict standards which by this time many had abandoned. They were however only interested in the estates of Glenstrup, and demolished the abbey premises shortly after 1445, leaving only the church.

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Founded: 1125
Category: Religious sites in Denmark
Historical period: The First Kingdom (Denmark)

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