Waverley Abbey is two miles south-east of Farnham town centre, situated on the flood plain of the River Wey. The ruins are in the care of English Heritage and are open to the public. Waverley Abbey was founded in 1128 by William Giffard, Bishop of Winchester. It was Britain’s first Cistercian monastery. The ruins visible today, are the remains of the Abbey when it was at its peak. They are part of the centre of what was a large complex, extending to sixty acres. The original small monastery was expanded and a new church was completed in the 1270s. The Bishop of Winchester dedicated the building in 1278 and it is said that 7,000 guests attended the banquet which followed.
After Henry VIII abolished the monasteries in 1536, Waverley Abbey was closed and partly demolished. The stone was used in local buildings. The site was granted to Sir William Fitzwilliam, who built a house incorporating some of the monastic ruins. A new house was built in 1723 and is now known as Waverley Abbey House. It was incorporated into parkland and is separated from the ruins by an artificial lake. In the 19th century, it was owned by George Nicholson, the uncle of Florence Nightingale. Florence Nightingale and also Sir Walter Scott often visited the house. In the First World War, it was a military hospital and is now a training and conference centre. Sir Walter Scott chose the name, “Waverley”, for the hero of his novel, “Waverley”, but never confirmed that his choice of name was due to his visits to Waverley Abbey.
The ruins of Waverley Abbey have been used for numerous film and TV productions including, Hot Fuzz (2007), Into the Woods (2014) and The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016), starring Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt.