The Abbey buildings
We don’t know when the first house was built on the site, or what it looked like. It is generally agreed that the oldest part of the current building is the eastern end, which was drastically re-designed in the mid-nineteenth century. The Mordaunts owned the building but never lived in it.
At the start of the seventeenth century a major enlargement took place. The date 1605 can be found on one of the gables on the road-side of the Abbey, and 1608 on a west-facing gable on the south side.
It is most likely that an older building was incorporated into the new design.
1792 John Higgins inherits Turvey Abbey from his Uncle
The Abbey had probably changed very little since the early seventeenth century when, in 1781, John Higgins first saw the dilapidated old farm house that, to his delight, he would one day inherit from his uncle. Years later John would make sketches from memory of the house as it was in 1781.
When, in 1792, John inherited the Abbey, part of the house had been repaired by his uncle, Charles Higgins, and part of the house was in the occupation of Sarah Laurence, the tenant of the Abbey Farm (Turvey Abbey) who had been had a lease of the Farm. The house and garden were both divided until her death in 1797.
Sarah would have lived in the eastern part of the building, and John and his family in the western end—which was presumably in better condition. After her death John took down the old garden walls and laid out his gardens.
John had big plans for his new property. He created a carriage drive, built a new stable block with a tower clock supplied by Thwaites & Reed of London, replaced the small windows with Georgian windows, in short, created a house suitable for a gentleman. He also created a drawing room in the part of the house with the ‘1608’ date.
John made paintings and sketches of his new estate and of the people who worked for him which survive to this day. The Rev John Longuet-Higgins, current holder of the family archives, has kindly made them available and the complete collection can be found on the Turvey History Society website:–
The posters below (pdf) give some of the history of the Turvey monks and nuns. They were displayed at the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Festival at All Saint’s Anglican Parish Church, Turvey, in June 2012