The Venerable Bede 673-735 A.D. who was a monk at Furness Abbey,
where the monks also were builders, plumbers and moat diggers.
They also had
grain stores, vines and trees and much of this
Cartmel Priory was saved from destruction
during the Reformation, and still retain their beautiful lands
and gardens. At most monasteries in this
families who couldn’t support all their children often offered 1
or 2 of the elder children to the church, where they would be
protected, and put to useful work in the monasteries
and gardens. Other monasteries in this area, i.e. Whalley,
Lancaster, Upholland and Burscough
also provided shelter and
St. Benedict 480-543 A.D. also worked in the
chapel, cloisters and in the fields.
Canterbury 1165 A.D.
A large conduit plan of the cathedral gives details of plumbing
and the water system. Herbs, vegetables and fruit were grown
on the lands, but there were no potatoes until 1500s.
Rievaulx Abbey monastery had bookshelves all around the
cloisters. The Persian garden plan had 4 rivers of life flowing
away from the monastery.
The monks worked in the orchards
and fields and tended lillies for early pollen for the bees.
Ampleforth collected apples, cherries, pears, peaches,
nectarines, figs, quince and berries. Henry IV preserved Quince,
in syrup, for his wedding.
Mulberry and Blackberry juice
were used for ink. Chestnut flour was substituted for wheat
flour. On fish days salted sea fish was provided for
travellers, as monasteries were also a stopping off point for
rest and refreshment.
The gardens, in the monasteries
next to the Infirmary housed poultry and the cemetery was also
an orchard. They grew healing herbs for infusions
gargle with and made tinctures from syrup, extracted essential
oils for salves and poultices. Lillies were used for foot
monks experienced ‘blood letting’ 6 times a
year. The infirm and aged monks were looked after very well.
The infirmary cloisters at Westminster Abbey, was planted
with white flowers. There were also benefits for the monks of a
summer house, archery
and bowling. The Sacristan shop was
used for decorating the church and beeswax was used in
candlemaking. Lovage, celery and fennel were used to
Wirral cathedral (Bishops Palace) replanted vines,
as St. Benedict had said ‘Monks should not have wine!! Various
flowers were used for colouring
and dyeing : cow parsley-
Yellow: woad – Blue: parsley – Green: dandelion – Magenta: The
abbots garden was discovered by archaeologists and was
prestigious and its cost was 25 pounds in 1300s
Dynham Tapestries, Duke of Bergundy, were made of wool and silk
in the 1480s. The Black death took its toll in 1348, when two
thirds of the
monks perished, because they tended the sick
Mount Grace Priory York 1398, is well worth a
visit. Some monks had the added advantage of being in receipt of
Just to mention Elaine (speaker) was a
friend of Rosemary Boyd and together they found old maps and put
the history together for the Astley
carried on with her search and was at the forefront of the
restoration. So this is a perfect conclusion and a memorium to
Rosemary, for her interest in all things historical and
archaeological, and her dedication to the project.