Stoneleigh Abbey was founded by the Cistercians in 1154, but little trace remains of the original Abbey buildings except for the 14th-century Gatehouse. One of the seats of the Leigh family, Stoneleigh Abbey has played house to several people of note, including King Charles I, Queen Victoria, and novelist Jane Austen.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries the estate was acquired by Sir Thomas Leigh, Lord Mayor of London in 1558, and a house was built on the site of the monastic buildings. It was the home of the Leigh family from 1561 to 1990.
Between 1714 and 1726 a new palatial four-storey fifteen-bay west wing was built to designs by architect Francis Smith of Warwick and provides an impressive range of state apartments.
After many tragic events including a fire in 1960, the house was left in a run-down state, that could no longer be looked after by the Leigh family so was sold to a preservation charitable trust, but when this also failed the Abbey was saved by a new independent charitable Trust.
Today Stoneleigh Abbey is open to the public for walks in the gardens and woodlands, as well as guided history tours of the west wing and afternoon teas in the orangery. The Abbey also plays host to many events, including outdoor productions.