Ter Doest Abbey was a Cistercian abbey in the present Lissewege, a district of Bruge. Lambert, lord of Lissewege, left an estate with a chapel in 1106 to the Benedictines, who built an abbey there. This affiliated itself to the Cistercian order in 1175 as a daughter house of Ten Duinen Abbey in Koksijde, of the filiation of Clairvaux. It had a daughter house of its own, the Abbey of Onze Lieve Vrouw Kamer, founded in 1223.

The abbey played an important part in the building of dykes and the reclamation of land in the coastal areas of Flanders, Zeeland and Holland, and also in the wool trade.

Saint Thorfinn, otherwise Thorfinn of Hamar, exiled bishop of Hamar in Norway, took refuge at Ter Doest after his opposition to King Eric II of Norway. He died in the abbey on 8 January 1285 and was buried there.

Willem van Saeftinghe, a lay brother of Ter Doest, fought with the Flemish in the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302, where he is said to have unhorsed the French leader, Robert, Count of Artois, whereupon other Flemish soldiers killed him. In 1308 during a revolt of the lay brothers, Willem killed the cellarer of the abbey, and injured the abbot, Willem van Cordewaegen, so badly that he nearly died.

In 1624 Ter Doest was united with Ten Duinen, which in 1627 moved to Bruges. It was dissolved in the French Revolution in 1796. Almost the only building to survive is the tithe barn, 50 metres long and over 30 metres high, built in 1250. The abbey once had a vast church with three aisles, which was destroyed in 1571 by the Calvinists.

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Founded: 1106
Category: Religious sites in Belgium

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