Titchfield Abbey started life as a Premonstratensian abbey founded in 1231 by the Bishop of Winchester, Peter des Roches.
It was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1537 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and granted to Thomas Wriothesley, a powerful courtier who also owned Beaulieu Abbey. He transformed it into a grand mansion called Place House.
This he did by inserting a grand turreted gate house into the nave, and demolishing the east end of the church and all the other buildings to the east of the cloisters.
Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I are all said to have visited Place House, as did William Shakespeare. Some of his plays may have had their first performance here.
After changing hands several times, in 1781 the mansion was abandoned and partially demolished to create a romantic ruin. And what a romantic ruin it is. It must have been a very handsome house in its day.
Despite there being brown signs pointing to the abbey from every direction, the entrance to the site is not signposted, and is not easy to spot; I managed to drive past it twice. Look out for the posts with red bands on them, immediately opposite the Fisherman's Rest public house.
There is a small car park immediately in front of the abbey and another at the far end of the drive.
Admission is free; for opening times, please see English Heritage's official site detailed below.
Whilst you are in the area it is worth driving south over the busy A27 to the achingly pretty Titchfield village, marooned as it is in all the post-war dross.