Monk Bretton has been closed since March due to COVID. Although it is a free site, sadly in the past, the ruin has been damaged by vandals and so the site can not remain open at all times. Despite the site being free entry, the gates get locked every day at 3pm and re-open at 10am.
It is unfortunate that Monk Bretton does not get the same protection as other English Heritage sites. Roche Abbey is similar in size and yet that is a staffed site. During my visit I witnessed an incredibly ignorant individual who was climbing up the ruin (I have made a video with a little more information and a picture of said individual below). As Monk Bretton is un-staffed, English Heritage rely on people using common sense and being respectful, clearly they cannot rely on this. I do think they need more signs that say ‘DO NOT CLIMB ON THE RUIN’. If this fails, I personally think that the gates should remain locked and only opened maybe once a month when it can be staffed.
From what I can gather, the volunteers of this site take care of it, rather than English Heritage that doesn’t seem to care much. The gatekeepers are volunteers, which makes it more upsetting when you see litter, graffiti and idiots climbing the ruins.
Monk Bretton was founded in about 1154, by a local landowner called Adam Fitzswaine. The priory served as a daughter house to the rich Cluniac priory at Pontefract. After 50 years of disagreements, Monk Bretton seceded from Cluniac Order in 1281 and became a Benedictine house.
The priory was quite substantial as it owned properties across South Yorkshire, with rights over five parish churches. It is also said that Monk Bretton worked coal and ironstone in the Barnsley area. After Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, Monk Bretton was closed and materials from the priory were used elsewhere.
The priory passed into the ownership of the Blithman family and then in 1589 the estate was bought by William Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury. He converted the west range of the cloister into a country house for his son Henry.
Today, the site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and now in the care of English Heritage/ volunteers.
Roche Abbey was founded in 1147 and housed Cistercian Monks. (The Order of Cistercians are a Catholic religious order of monks and nuns that branched off from the Benedictines and follow the Rule of Saint Benedict. Also called ‘white monks’ due to their light colour robes).
At its peak in around 1175, there were approximately 50 monks, 100 lay brothers and servants. Roche Abbey was suppressed in 1538 when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.
Today the site is managed by English Heritage. Entry is £5 for adults and £4.50 for concessions. As of August 2020, you must book online before visiting, this also includes EH members.
There is only one interpretation board on site. When staff scan your ticket, they ask if you want to buy a guide book for £4.50. I think this is a little bit wrong, I understand that the extra money goes towards the upkeep of the site. However, some more boards would be nice, rather than trying to get people to buy the book.
Tupholme Abbey was a Premonstratensian monastery, founded between 1155-65. It was relatively small, of up to 12 canons and had limited endowments in the county of Lincolnshire. Along with other Lincolnshire monastic sites, Tupholme was involved in the wool export trade.
From the time of St Augustine’s mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597, to the reign of Henry VIII, monasticism formed an important facet of both religious and secular life in the British Isles. Settlements of religious communities, including monasteries, were built to house communities of monks, canons (priests), and sometimes lay-brothers, living a common life of religious observance under some form of systematic discipline. It is estimated from documentary evidence that over 700 monasteries were founded in England.
The abbey was dissolved in 1536, after Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. The property was granted to Sir Thomas Heneage of Hainton. Thereafter the site was occupied by a country house, demolished around the beginning of the 18th century and replaced in the 19th century by cottages and a farmhouse, which were also dismantled in 1986.
What remains today is a mixture of the abbey and the post-medieval buildings.
The Cistercian Abbey at Kirkstead was founded in 1139 by Hugh Brito (Hugh son of Eudo), lord of Tattershall. Cistercian monks and nuns were founded in 1098 and followed the rules of St Benedict (obedience, poverty and chastity). They are often referred to as the ‘White Monks’ because of the light coloured robes that they wore, as opposed to the Benedictines who wore black robes.
In 1536, 17 of the monks were involved in the Lincolnshire Rising. A protest against Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the monasteries. The abbot supported the insurgents and as a consequence, he and 3 monks were executed, and the abbey destroyed.
Little remains of the Abbey, below are a few images from my visit.
The abbey is about 100 meters from the road, I parked at the gate and walked down the dirt track to the abbey.
Barlings Abbey in Lincolnshire is the remains of a Premonstratensian Abbey. It was founded in around 1154 by a local landowner named Ralph de Haya, with the first canons coming from Newsham Abbey near Grimsby.
After the Lincolnshire Rising of 1536, the abbot and 6 of the canons were executed. The Lincolnshire Rising was a protest against Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the monasteries. At the time, Barlings was classed as one of the greater abbeys as it had an income of over £200 and was one of the wealthiest houses in Lincolnshire.
The abbey was suppressed in 1537, lead was stripped from the roof and the Abbots books and other possessions were removed and sold. The abbey fell into ruin with much of the stonework being used to build local farm houses.
Today, not much remains, below are a few images from my recent visit.