Jan introduced the evening by explaining that the White Monks are the Cistercians, a reforming Order of Monks. Since white was the colour of reform they chose to wear habits of coarse undyed wool and therefore became known as White Monks.
In 1098 a group of Cluniac monks broke away from their Order, determined to follow a simpler life style and follow more strictly the Rule of St. Benedict. They founded Citeaux Abbey near Dijon, France. The main impetus for the new Order came when Bernard of Clairvaulx became leader of the Order in 1134. In the century following, the Order had spread across Europe. By the 1150s there were over eighty Cistercian monasteries in England. That number finally rose to around two hundred.
The Cistercians were an austere Order. They built their abbeys in remote, often hostile, places. The monks were given just two habits, one blanket and some woollen stockings. They followed a meagre vegetarian diet. The original emphasis was on seclusion, prayer, manual labour and self-
The Order in England did suffer set-
With the Reformation in the 1530s some abbeys were destroyed, some converted into houses.
Jan then introduced her choice of Cistercian Abbeys, treating us, through a slide show, to the history and architecture of each.
Founded in 1132 and in its heyday consisting of 91 acres and with 150 choir monks and 500 lay brothers. Jan talked about its origins and the sequence of partial and new re-
She identified some key buildings.
Founded by a group of monks who had been expelled from St. Mary’s Abbey, York, the abbey became one of the largest in England.
Key buildings were:
The monks who founded Byland were originally of the Savignac Order at Furness Abbey. They first founded a daughter house at Calder but after repeated attacks by the Scots they fled back to Furness and eventually travelled east into Yorkshire. Byland is the first abbey in the English Gothic style, very different from the simple, unadorned French style. At Byland there is rich carving and decoration picked out in colour.
Roche Abbey. The “Abbey of the Rock”, South Yorkshire.
Roche is a very small abbey but unusual in that, spanning a river, it has two patrons and two land-
Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire.
This is an example of an abbey converted into a house, following the Reformation. It originally was an Elizabethan house and subsequently a Georgian mansion.
Mount St. Bernard, Leicestershire.
This is the only “working” Cistercian monastery in England, founded by re-
The church was designed by Pugin and is unadorned, very like the early abbeys before the adornments introduced at Byland.
In The Footsteps Of The White Monks
Great Broughton Village Hall
Monday 19th June 2017 at 7.30pm