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Richard Earl of Cornwall was in fear for his life when beset by a terrible storm during a voyage at sea in 1242. In desperation he swore a vow to found a religious house if he survived. In 1245 his brother, King Henry III, gave him the manor of Hailes so that he could fulfil his pledge. Remarkably, the work of building the abbey was completed in only 5 years, and in 1251, Henry III, Queen Eleanor of Provence, and 13 bishops attended the consecration ceremony.
After its establishment , Richard's son Edmund , presented the Cistercian monks of Hailes Abbey with a phial said to contain the blood of Christ. From then until the Dissolution, Hailes became a mangnet for pilgrims.
What exactly did the pilgrims see? King Henry VIIIs commissioners declared the famous relic to be nothing but the blood of a duck, regularly renewed. However, Earl Edmund of Cornwall, who bought the Holy Blood in Germany in 1270, believed it to be actual blood which had flowed from Christs side at the moment of his death.
So popular was the abbey to medieval pilgrims that the Prior of Hailes built a hotel to house the richer visitors. This hotel lives on as The George Hotel, at Winchcombe. The building itself has been altered several times, but still retains an open gallery over the courtyard.
Hailes Abbey has fewer walls and structures intact than such famous ruins as Rivaulx and Fountains Abbey. This scarcely detracts from its interest, however. The quiet setting at the foot of pastoral hills evokes the inner peace of monastic life. The outlines of the abbey church and the cloister are clearly visible and a number of wall fragments remain standing. In the small museum attached to the abbey are examples of medieval floor tiles, vaulting bosses and other carved decoration.
The Abbey is 2 miles Northeast of Winchcombe Gloucestershire, off the B4632