Ten Duinen Abbey

Last updated
Abbey of the Dunes
Abdij Ten Duinen
Pieter Pourbus - 1571 Plan for Ten Duin Abbey in Koksijde.jpg
Pieter Pourbus, Ten Duinen Abbey (1571)
Monastery information
Order Cistercians
Diocese Thérouanne (to 1559); Ypres (from 1559); Bruges (from 1627)
Functional status Bruges seminary
Heritage designationlisted built heritage
Designated date2009
Completion date1788
Coordinates 51°06′35″N2°37′55″E / 51.1096°N 2.6319°E / 51.1096; 2.6319 Coordinates: 51°06′35″N2°37′55″E / 51.1096°N 2.6319°E / 51.1096; 2.6319

Ten Duinen Abbey or the Abbey of the Dunes (Dutch : Abdij Ten Duinen) was a Cistercian monastery at Koksijde in what is now Belgium. It was one of the richest and most influential religious institutions in the medieval County of Flanders. It later relocated to the city of Bruges.



A religious community was founded in the dunes near Koksijde by the hermit Ligerius in 1107. In 1120 the community took the Rule of St Benedict as its rule of life, and in 1139 it became affiliated to the Cistercian Order. Partly through donations and partly through land reclamation work in the dunes and polders, the monastery developed extensive landholdings on which the lay brothers reared sheep, producing wool for the cloth trade. A dependent house was established at Eastchurch, in Kent, to export wool from England, but was later sold to Boxley Abbey. [1] The daughter house Ter Doest Abbey was founded in 1175 and also became rich and influential.

New buildings were begun in 1214 and completed in 1237, to house a community of approximately 400 monks and lay brothers. The new church was consecrated by the bishops of Thérouanne and Tournai on 13 October 1262.

The church was vandalised by iconoclasts in 1566, and the monastery was sacked by rebel forces in 1578. The community was scattered but regrouped in 1583. After decades in temporary accommodation the community was established in Bruges in 1627, in a house that had been the refugium of Ter Doest, which had been re-amalgamated to Ten Duinen in 1624. New monastery buildings ( 51°13′05″N3°13′52″E / 51.218°N 3.231°E / 51.218; 3.231 (Ten Duinen Abbey (Bruges)) ) were erected in Bruges in the years 1628–1642. Work on a new church was begun in 1775 and completed in 1788. [2]

On 9 April 1796, during the French occupation of Belgium, the abbey was suppressed and its goods confiscated. In 1833 the diocesan seminary of Bruges was established in the monastic buildings. Excavations of the ruins of the medieval buildings in the dunes near Koksijde began in 1897. [3] Several campaigns have been undertaken since, most notably in 1955 and in 1987–88. [4] The ruins are now a museum site.


The ruins of the medieval abbey buildings in Koksijde Koksijde Ausgrabungen.jpg
The ruins of the medieval abbey buildings in Koksijde
The 17th-century abbey buildings in Bruges Brugge Hemelrijk Duinenabdij.JPG
The 17th-century abbey buildings in Bruges

Notable monks

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  1. M.-A. Dimier, "Dunes", in Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. 14 (Paris, 1960), 1039–1044.
  2. Duinenabdij, Inventaris Onroerend Erfgoed (inventory of built heritage). Accessed 9 December 2016.
  3. Abdij Ten Duinen, Inventaris Onroerend Erfgoed. Accessed 10 December 2016.
  4. M. Dewilde and J. De Meulemeester, De opgravingscampagnes van 1987 en 1988 in de Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Ten Duinenabdij te Koksijde, Archeologie in Vlaanderen 1 (1991), pp. 213–230.