Lesnes Abbey was founded in 1178 by Richard de Luci the Chief Justiciar of England and first Canon of the Abbey. He died the following year and was buried in the Abbey Church. Today, he is barely known but at the time de Luca (as it was also spelt) was a major figure with King Stephen making him caretaker of the Tower of London and the Castle of Winchester. His eldest son was given over as a hostage to Henry of Normandy (later Henry II) at the Treaty of Wallingford. On the death of Stephen and the accession of Henry II, De Luci was made Chief Justiciar of England, a post he held for nearly 25 years. During part of the time he was also Protector of the Realm, and upheld the King’s power in England against both the Earl of Leicester and the King of Scotland, while Henry was in France fighting Louis VII. Towards the latter part of his life De Luci regretted backing the king’s murder of Thomas a Beckett and built the Abbey as an atonement. The Abbey existed from 1178 until 1525, when it was suppressed by Cardinal Wolsey and its revenues devoted to the building of Christ Church. The building was lost to history until 1910 when local archeologists rediscovered it in an orchard. The remains are classed as an ancient scheduled monument.
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