Monasteries- 1066 +

DSCN2029William the Conqueror was committed to a programme of monastery building in his new kingdom.  The invasion of England, complete with papal banner, was after all a crusade.  However, in comparison to the twelfth century when monastic foundation and building reached an apex the first Normans on English shores were relatively slow off the mark.  Chester, Colchester and Shrewsbury were early establishments as were Tewkesbury and Lewes which housed monks from Cluny.  All of the above mentioned were funded by Norman barons eager to emulate their monarch and no doubt to give thanks for doing so very nicely out of the English venture.

In addition to these new foundations and, in the North, refoundation of early sites such as Whitby there was another significant change in the Church.  Leading Anglo-Saxon abbots and bishops with a few notable exceptions such as Wulfstan of Worcester were shown the door and replaced by William’s men headed up by Lanfranc of Bec who promptly reorganised and reformed the Church.

Lanfranc did use some of the earlier Anglo-Saxon administrative structure including the incorporation of cathedrals into monastic foundations.  Given-Wilson lists them: Bath ( & Wells), Canterbury, Carlisle (hence my interest), Coventry, Durham, Ely, Norwich, Rochester, Winchester and Worcester.  Both Canterbury (pictured at the beginning of this post) and Worcester had been founded before 1066 and may have acted as the models which Lanfranc chose to emulate. Carlisle was home to an order of Augustinian Canons the other nine were Benedictine.  These cathedrals were at the heart of their dioceses with a bishop at their head.  The monastery would have been headed up by an abbot or a prior – the two posts need not be held by the same person which could, and in deed did, lead to some lively disagreements.

Not all cathedrals were staffed by monks.  Some cathedrals were ‘secular’ – which means that the clergy who ran the cathedrals were not attached to a religious order.  Lincoln Cathedral was never associated with a monastery and neither bizarrely, given the number of monasteries in the vicinity, was York.

2 thoughts on “Monasteries- 1066 +

  1. Carlisle with its painting of Saint Mary high in the roof beams and once the smallest of British Abbey Cathedrals lost its rank to Oxford chapel now marked as the smallest Cathedral in UK,,if not the world. The bullet holes in the masonery wall opposite Bulloughs old super store tells of Scottish trial and death by gun fire against the Cathedral wall. Jacobite hopes died there that day. In youth my suits for school in London came always from Bulloughs suit department. I even bought my first suit off the peg.It was Daks and after twenty years it is as good as new and still fits me. The city was once Scotland behind the Roman wall. It stands today as the English City on the borders. From Sizergh I could drive to Carlisle in thirty six minutes then they gave us the M6 motorway and it took an hour and twelve minutes to arrive there.Making Penrith obsolete in the process. My sister still lives near Penrith where my dear mother died in their cottage hospital.

    • Bulloughs is gone but it’s been reopened as a department store once again after many months of emptiness and articles in the newspaper. The third floor was empty last time I went in. I think its being decorated so who knows? Whoever’s taken it on has taken a brave step but its good to be able to have an excellent cooked breakfast once again with a view of the cathedral upon arrival in Carlisle. I shall be having rather a closer look at the masonry next time I go north as I thought the Jacobites were all hanged on Harraby Hill.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.