Medieval Realms

Who lived in the abbey?   

At any one time, there were approximately 60 monks who lived in the abbey. By 1539, when the abbey was handed over to Henry VIII, there was an abbot, a prior and 47 monks. Some of the monks had special duties. For example, the infirmerer looked after the old and sick monks. 


As monks went to mass eight times a day, the first service took place at 2am in summer and 4am in winter. The precentor had the duty of waking up the monks to go to church during the night and keeping the lamps burning in the dormitory. He was also equipped with a stick to hit the monks over the head with to ensure they kept awake during mass!

 

Only monks who were ordained priests could celebrate mass. These monks would have been buried with a chalice and patern (correct spelling!) - a thin piece of lead used to cover the chalice. 

 

Besides the monks, there were many people working in the abbey. Craftsmen worked in the outer precinct, an open area where animals were also kept. These craftsmen all helped to keep the abbey buildings intact and also to do the manual labour that the monks did not do. For example, the glaziers repaired the huge stained glass windows in the church. Stonemasons would do any carving – the abbey had many fine carvings to adorn its buildings – and master masons would be responsible for the building itself, both design and maintenance.

 

There were also servants who worked serving the monks. These could work in the laundry or bakery or kitchens of the abbey. 




 
Document icon Learning article provided by: Yorkshire Museum and Gardens |  The Guildhall, Leicester | 
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