In 1270, Edward I survived a shipwreck and, to give thanks for his deliverance, ordered the building of a great abbey of dimensions to rival any in the land and bequeathed funds to the Order of Cistercian monks to build and run the abbey. The location chosen was on the banks of the river Weaver which, incidentally is close to the hometown of the composer’s mother in Cheshire. Huge funds were put in to the project over many decades and although the foundations were laid for the great pillars to support the building (still visible to this day), the abbey was built only to a fraction of its original design. Instead, the funds were pilfered and misappropriated to fund the opulent lifestyle of the profligate monks who were roundly despised and reviled in the country (merry gentleman indeed!).
In 1543, Henry VIII set about the dissolution of the abbey, and the destruction of its building, to wide acclaim and much rejoicing throughout the county. This piece tells that story.