University of Leicester
2012BrownGRphd.pdf (288.59 MB)

Stanley Abbey and its Estates 1150-c.1640

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posted on 2012-03-09, 15:19 authored by Graham Roger Brown
This thesis assesses the impact of a Cistercian monastery on the landscape and how, in its turn, the landscape influenced the monastery. It also tests some of the traditional early ideals of the Cistercians such as their attitude to colonisation, land clearance, administration of their territory and dealings with secular society. This study also goes beyond the monastic period and examines what effect the suppression of the monastery had on the landscape and community. The research of monasteries has tended to be insular and concentrate on the recording of their standing fabric or the excavation of the church and conventual buildings; however, this thesis approaches the subject from a different perspective and examines not only the abbey but its territory using archaeology, architecture, documents and map evidence in a holistic, ‘landscape’ manner. In order to understand why the monks chose Chippenham Forest for their monastery the geomorphology of the region and the pre-monastic landscape is first assessed since it probably affected later colonisation. Using the earthwork survey plan of the abbey features within the precinct are identified. It is clear that, following its suppression, the west range of the abbey was converted into a mansion house with gardens and parkland beyond, which are revealed on the plan. Similarly, archaeological evidence would suggest that similar conversions were undertaken at some granges. The abbey’s granges were located in diverse locations; some were in isolated positions while others were on the edge of existing settlements. It is also clear that the monks held manors at an early date, but within some of these manors there were also granges, thus the monks held a compact blocks of land in severalty, but also owned the demesne with tenants owing dues to the abbot.



Dyer, Christopher

Date of award


Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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