This is book number 1 in the Power and Piety series.
This series of books is intended to provide a unique fully illustrated record of monastic houses in the British Isles, with gazetteer, description and photographs of the most interesting and elaborate architectural remains, and brief historic coverage of significant events. Coverage ranges from the most impressive survivals to a single fragment of wall languishing unheralded in town and country. Monasteries where nothing has survived are also included to ensure a comprehensive overview.
Few can fail to be fascinated by the medieval flowering and ultimate destruction of monasticism in Britain. While many consider Henry VIII's despoiling and dismantling of the monastic establishments, driven as it was by the King's break with Rome and the need to finance the strengthening of his defences against the French, vandalism on a breathtaking scale, it has to be acknowledged that the monastic Orders played a not inconsiderable part in their own downfall. By the fifteenth and sixteenth century, scores of the faithful of both sexes had increasingly succumbed to secular temptations and pleasures, which, together with the trappings of power and wealth for many, provided a heady cocktail that led to an alarming spiritual decline. Yet, for almost five hundred years, these monasteries were a key part of the social fabric of a then largely feudal society and contributed immensely to the development of agriculture and learning.
It is to be hoped that our books will kindle interest in an important aspect of our medieval history, encourage a visit when in the vicinity, or persuade the intrepid adventurer that a long journey into Britain's fascinating monastic past would be time well spent.