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The Dissolution of the Monasteries
What's that all about?


The Dissolution of the Monasteries -  Nash Ford Publishing

 

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 in London.
  • The monks or nuns had to leave:
    • If they didn't make a fuss, they got a pension for life.
    • If they spoke out against the King, they were hanged, like the Charterhouse monks.
  • Henry sent his servants called 'commissioners' to each monastery. They gathered up anything portable that was worth money:
    • 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 might have.
    • 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 uses.
      • 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 theatres.
    • 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 Abbey.

 
 

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