Saturday, 4 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: D is for Dissolution of the Monasteries
The phrase 'Dissolution of the Monasteries' often conjures up images of violence, ransacking, and looting.  Yes, that did happen - but after the administrative side of the dissolution.  Just as the CEO of a chain store nowadays would prune his stores to remove the ones which were just not paying well, so King Henry VIII got rid of the monasteries which did not have enough monks, had a low income, and were generally becoming inefficient (and there were rumours of some sinful conduct, too).  This was in 1536.  Monks and nuns were pensioned off, and these monasteries were dissolved.
All very quiet and administrative.

Then, in 1538, Bury St Edmunds was looted, and in 1539-40 Cromwell sent his soldiers to back up the King's orders, because the wealthier monasteries were going a little less quietly (but there was still not much resistance).
St Joseph's Chapel, Glastonbury Abbey
courtesy Dzlinker

It was after the administrative side had taken place that the looting began.  David Hey's "The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History" states: "Lead roofs were stripped and building stone was carted away. Livestock and crops were confiscated and granges converted to farms."  Goods and chattels were supposed to be auctioned off.  Lands were transferred, plunder was sold, gentry increased their holdings.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved


  1. Hello Ros :) I'm so glad you're back for this year's challenge as later this year I am wanting to do some research into the different people who have lived in my house over the past centuries. Amazingly enough the dissolution of the monasteries will be linked to this research so it's great to find you on the day you're blogging about this!!
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

    1. Nice to see you again, SENCO Cat Herder. Your research project sounds fascinating - as I expect you will find as you go back through the years. Although my own flat is not very old, you have inspired me to find old photos of when this particular area was field-full and flat-free. Hey - maybe that could be my 'F' post! *grins*

  2. Nothing much changes does it? There are still looters and instead of calling it Dissolution it is called restructuring. It must have so hard for some of the monks and nuns to leave

    1. I agree - especially as it was not so much "just a job" as their *vocation*, which meant they felt they were called of God to be monks and nuns. Just can't imagine it. But thanks for stopping by!



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