Abbey: The A monastic community. Abbeys belonged to particular orders, such as the Cistercians.
Abbot (male): Person in charge of an Abbey.
Abbess (female): Person in charge of an Abbey.
Almery: or Ambry or Aumbry. A box or cupboard for alms, or a cupboard in the chancel for sacred vessels.
Almonry: The office of the Almoner where alms were distributed.
Benedictine: Order of monks founded by St. Benedict. Followed the Benedictine Rule.
Canons: The chapter members. The people running the cathedral.
Chapter: The group of canons, with the Dean, who are the governing body of a cathedral.
Chapter House: The building where the canons and Dean met each day to hear a chapter of St Benedict's Rule read out and to conduct the business of the abbey.
Cistercians: Order of monks, also know as the White Monks.
Cloister: The rectangular covered area around an open space (garth) of a monastery or cathedral surrounded by covered walkways used for study and meditation. A photograph of the cloister at Lincoln Cathedral.
Minster: Large church originally linked to a monastery.
Monastery: A community were monks or nuns worship God.
Monk: A man who has taken vows and joined a religious community.
enry VIII obtained much needed money by suppressing hundreds of religious houses across the country and selling off their lands and assets. The monasteries, abbeys and nunneries had in the past played an important role in the fabric of medieval life. Not only had they acted as a place of worship, but they were also a centre for education, refuge for travellers and provided food for the poor. But times were changing and education was being provided by newly created universities and inns were providing a place for travellers. Less people were interested in a monastic life.
By an Act of Parliament in 1536 King Henry and Thomas Cromwell sent out surveyors to report on the state of each religious community, starting with the smaller houses first. Those houses that were badly run or where disipline for the religious order they followed had become slack were closed down immediately and their lands and assets taken. The abbots were offered pensions or money to surrender their houses but also threatened with violence if they did not. Several abbots were executed for not surrendering their abbeys.
The inhabitants of the houses were sent to larger abbeys or just abandoned. A second round of suppression followed that concentrated on the larger religious houses. But the suppression did not come without a cost. Several revolts were sparked by the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
In 1539 by another Act, the larger religious houses suffered the same fate.
The only houses to survive were those that served as seats for bishops such as Bristol, Gloucester, Oxford etc.
Those abbeys that became the property of the Crown were stripped of their assets. The lead from the rooves was melted down on site and shipped off to be reused. The stonework found use in local buildings. Some abbeys were so stripped of their assets that nothing above ground level remained while others had sections of wall remaining.