Ladies learn the fascinating history of medieval abbeys

Snowdrops in bloom at Fountains Abbey, near Ripon.

Snowdrops in bloom at Fountains Abbey, near Ripon.

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Lancaster Park wi

The May meeting of Lancaster Park WI saw a very good turn out of members.

We were treated to an entertaining talk on medieval abbeys, given by archaeologist and historian Barry Mead.

The talk was illustrated by a selection of beautiful photographs of abbey ruins at different sites.

It started with the monastic movement based on the rule of St Benedict, which spread through Europe and into England.

The first Cistercian monastery was set up here in 1128.

Fountains Abbey, in Yorkshire, was founded, which later sent monks to Morpeth to set up Newminster Abbey.

Cistercians were noted for their austerity, their distinctive style of architecture of little ornamentation, and farming.

Their lifestyle revolved around prayer and work.

Abbeys were usually built near water.

They were entered by a gateway leading to the church, the refectory, kitchens and bathing areas.

Dormitories were above the Chapter House and monks parlours.

The floors were beautifully tiled.

Over the centuries their wealth increased.

With Henry VIII came the ruthless dissolution and wholesale destruction of many monasteries.

Treasures and valuables were confiscated and destroyed, leaving only fragments.

Much of what is known today is the result of painstaking work undertaken by archaeologists.

Jan Danes thanked Barry for his most enjoyable account of his work.