A search for information on the history of Sedgley Abbey turned up a report entitled “The Coquina Resources of Florida’s East Coast” by Dr. Thomas M. Scott. From it came the following information:
In the 18th century when the Lower Cape Fear region became open to colonial-era settlers, many wealthy planters and merchants built grand homes as status symbols. Among these was a sprawling residence and plantation built in the mid-1700s, possibly by William Lord, located about a half-mile north of Snow’s Cut along present-day Telfair’s Creek. The next owner, Scottish merchant Peter Maxwell, gave the estate the name of Sedgley Abbey and lived at the home with his wife Rebecca from about 1780 until 1801.
While the report and other resources found online did not go into why Maxwell chose this name, it is most likely a reference to Sedgley, a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley in the West Midlands of England. Historically a part of Staffordshire, Sedgley was a manor composed of a series of villages, including one also named Sedgley. And an abbey is defined as a monastery or society of people secluded from the world and devoted to religion and celibacy, which is headed by an abbot; or it may also be used to describe a private residence on the site of an abbey.
After the Maxwells died, according to the Scott report, the plantation changed hands several times and eventually fell victim to neglect. By the 1870s Sedgley Abbey, which was once regarded as the grandest colonial residence of the Cape Fear and compared to the Governor Dudley Mansion along Front Street in downtown Wilmington, was in ruins, and by the early 1900s only the cellar remained.
Fast forward to 2000, when development began on the Sedgley Abbey subdivision on the site of the old plantation. Click here to see a real estate ad when the community was preselling homesites. Today there are about 60 homes situated around Sea Castle Court and Carolina Beach Road, Wilmington [Map this], that make up the all-brick, tree-lined neighborhood.
Date posted: August 13, 2009
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