The Gilbertine Order was founded by Gilbert of Sempringham in 1130. Most of the priories associated with the order are in Lincolnshire and on the eastern side of the country.
Eleven of the twenty-six houses were double houses, in that they accommodated both men and women but there were strict rules about segregation. The priory at Ravenstonedale does not appear to have been a double house.
It was founded circa 1200 when the manor was granted to Watton which was a double house with some 150 women and 70 men. It seems that Ravenstonedale never grew large – there were three canons and some lay brothers. The men followed the Augustinians and were all canons whilst the women were Benedictine.
There was a fish pond and a rabbit warren to feed the canons at Ravenstonedale. Effectively the canons were the Lords of the Manor so had to fulfil that role including dispensing justice.
When dear old RAVEN FRANKLAND owned the valley up to so called Utter Pendragon castle in Mallerstang I helped dig out around those cells and clearly men and women lived in groups Gilbertines not common in Britain eventually driven off by puritan mobs seeing vice in such groups living together. I had a great time trowel and error helping out having worked on digs whilst at Uni had some idea of what to do. I fear that Doctor Raven was heavy handed in work with brush or trowel ended up with spade and yard brush at times as little did he have in skill to own all of that valley of Ravenstonedale he was named after but bless him he was so willing to get going on de digging at any time he came out to see what progress was being made .I was 18 I think he in his 40s then . Councillor to he was and now dead since 1990s I think I recall. One real character he was indeed. Good read thank you . Home photos out here in the wilds of Europe always welcome
Hello – hope you’re well. thank you for the personal insight.
I love this history, especially about all the old abbeys. I am guessing there must have been a million men and women over the centuries who have followed the Rule of St. Benedct since the first Benedictine abbey in Subiaco, which will celebrate its sesquimillennial in a few years. The abbey at Cluny reportedly had control of one thousand other abbeys.
Some of the double-houses abbeys were headed by women, at least in France. Were there any, do you know, in the British Isles? This is Women’s History Month.
Yes, some double houses were headed by women in Britain. Double monasteries became popular after Columbanus in Anglo-Saxon England but were outlawed by the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, though they were phased out over time. They revived starting in the 13th century, differently, among Benedictines. The 14th-century Bridgittines were founded with this type of community in mind. Monks and nuns lived in separate buildings but were united under an Abbess, often a woman of high aristocratic status or a prominent widow. Examples: Coldingham Priory in Scotland, Barking Abbey in London.