What's that all about?
The Dissolution was an event during
the Reformation of the Church, when King Henry
VIII decided to close down all the monasteries in England & Wales in
order to take all their money and make himself rich. He 'dissolved' the monasteries
- The monks or nuns had to
- If they didn't make a fuss, they got a pension
- If they spoke out against the King, they were
hanged, like the Charterhouse
- Henry sent his servants called 'commissioners' to
each monastery. They gathered up anything portable that was worth
- They particularly liked metalwork like chalices,
plates, jugs, crosses, candlesticks, reliquaries & feretories.
Gold & silver was best.
- They also took posh 'vestments' (clothes worn
during church services)
- Shrines, like St. Erkenwald's at St. Paul's
Cathedral, were destroyed and relics burnt. They
took any gold or jewels offered at them; or any cash the monastery
- They sold anything they could, even furniture
& bedding. Although much of this was just burnt. Many
beautiful carvings were destroyed.
- What they really wanted were documents showing
what land each monastery owned. This was worth the most money.
- This was all sent back to the King.
- Each monastery's land and buildings were sold off or
given away to the King's friends:
- Some monastery churches were sold (or partly sold) for use as
parish churches, like St.
Helen's Bishopsgate or St.
Bartholomew the Great.
- Some monastery buildings were converted to other
- They were often used as big houses for the
gentry, like the London Charterhouse.
- Many in London became shops or businesses.
- Parts of the Blackfriars
& Whitefriars became
- Some were taken down. The stone & timber was
sold for new building work.
- Much beautiful stonework was destroyed.
- The only monastery to survive intact was Westminster