Saturday 28 November 2009

Remains of Malmesbury Abbey

(Click to enlarge)The home of the famous medieval chronicler William of Malmesbury and last known resting place of Athelstan- the first king of all England (and a good chunk of Scotland too).His tomb is still there.
At the Dissolution the entire abbey was acquired by a local merchant who gave the church to the townsfolk and used the monastic dwellings for his cloth business. So there you have it: the Reformation was largely about money and making the rich richer.


  1. Hi: I read in the book "This Realm of England 1399-1688" by Lacey Baldwin Smith at page 111 (Library of Congress # 66-11290) that Henry VIII netted 2,000,000 British Pounds when he really needed it by selling the monasteries because the king was broke from his lavish life style and foreign wars. John D. Horton, Lawton, Oklahoma USA

  2. John Horton,I don't know the book you mention but what you say rings true. Henry VIII was a complete contrast to his father, Henry VII, who was as shrewd as they come. Henry VII checked the accounts personally- the records survive. The elder Henry had come to a "depleted inheritance" as a result of the Wars of the Roses and never forgot it. Henry VIII, by contrast, came to the throne as a young man and was determined to cut a figure on the international stage, whether by war or pageantry. The idea of suppressing "decayed" monasteries while applying the funds to other worthy causes was not entirely new - one or two Oxford colleges were created by this means. Under Henry and his "Vicar General" Thomas Cromwell, however, what was proposed as a mere "tidying-up" operation dealing with the smaller religious houses very rapidly became the complete destruction of religious life in England with the properties going at bargain prices.
    People are sometimes surprised that after Henry's Reformation and the yet more radical protestantism on Edward VI's reign Mary was able to restore Catholic unity. The sweetener was her guarantee that those who had acquired Church property in the preceding two reigns would not be required to return it!