Arninge Church is a Late Romanesque church built of red brick in the 13th century. It has an intricately carved auricular altarpiece created by Henrik Werner in 1644. The church was originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Built of red brick, the church consists of a Romanesque apse, chancel and nave and a Gothic porch. There is a free-standing 14th century timber bell tower adjacent to the church. The chancel has traces of a round-arched south door and of a round-arched window, now bricked up. There are also traces of two Romanesque windows in the south wall of the nave above the porch. The three cross-vaults in the nave are from the Late-Romanesque period.
The altarpiece (1644) was carved in the auricular style by Henrik Werner who also created the altarpiece in Maribo Cathedral. Werner's workshop also produced the carved font (c. 1640). The crucifix on the chancel wall was found on the loft during restoration work in 1937. The figure of Christ is from c. 1300 although the cross itself is more recent. The Renaissance pulpit is from c. 1605.References:
Sweetheart Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1275 by Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John de Balliol. His embalmed heart, in a casket of ivory and silver, was buried alongside her when she died; the monks at the Abbey then renamed the Abbey in tribute to her. Their son, also John, became king of Scotland but his reign was tragic and short. The depredations suffered by the Abbey in subsequent periods, have caused both the graves to be lost. The abbey, built in deep-red, local sandstone, was founded as a daughter house to Dundrennan Abbey; this Novum Monasterium (New Monastery), became known as the New Abbey.
The immediate abbey precincts extended to 120,000 m2 and sections of the surrounding wall can still be seen today. The Cistercian order, also known as the White Monks because of the white habit, over which they wore a black scapular or apron, built many great abbeys after their establishment around 1100. Like many of their abbeys, the New Abbey's interests lay not only in prayer and contemplation but in the farming and commercial activity of the area, making it the centre of local life. The abbey ruins dominate the skyline today and one can only imagine how it and the monks would have dominated early medieval life as farmers, agriculturalists, horse and cattle breeders. Surrounded by rich and fertile grazing and arable land, they became increasingly expert and systematic in their farming and breeding methods. Like all Cistercian abbeys, they made their mark, not only on the religious life of the district but on the ways of local farmers and influenced agriculture in the surrounding areas.
The village which stands next to the ruins today, is now known as New Abbey. At the other end of the main street is Monksmill, a corn mill. Although the present buildings date from the late eighteenth century, there was an earlier mill built by and for the monks of the abbey which serviced the surrounding farms.