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Byland Abbey: Location

Byland Abbey: History
Later Middle Ages

Byland Abbey: Buildings
Chapter House
Warming House
Day Room
Lay Brothers' Range

Byland Abbey: Lands

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Byland Abbey: Lands


Provisioning the community
According to the foundation history of Byland, the community was wont to receive a tenth of the goods from the household of its patron, Roger de Mowbray. This was collected by a lay-brother of the abbey, Lingulf, who followed the household and brought the provisions to his community, unless the party was too far away from Byland, in which case he sold the food and sent the money to the abbot. This arrangement did not always work, for on account of the number of guests, ‘never lacking to a great lord’, the seneschal and provisioner of Roger’s household were often obliged to borrow the tenth earmarked for Byland, to avoid a failure of his own supplies. However, when this reached the ears of the provisor of guests, he was so angry that he advised Roger, his lord, to make a gift of land to that value to the community in recompense.

[Fundatio Domus Bellelandae, in Dugdale, Monasticon, V, p. 350. For a translation, see Stenton, First Century, p. 72-3.]

As founder of Byland, Roger de Mowbray was obliged to make provision for his new community. He therefore granted the monks a tenth of his own household’s food. This arrangement soon proved a rather unreliable source of maintenance, and in 1140 Roger gave instead lands in Airyholme, Cam, Scackleton and Wildon.(2) The community may also at this time have received pasture at Rose Hill and Hovingham.(3) The monks received subsequent grants from Roger de Mowbray’s household and family, including the vill of Murton, in Bilsdale, from Roger’s steward, Hugh Malebisse. Several of Roger’s men joined the community as recruits, bringing with them resources. For example, when Serlo entered as a cook the monks acquired his lands in Ellington.(4) In this way Byland was able to establish a solid economic basis for future expansion. Such was the community’s success that Abbot Gerold feared their founding abbey, Furness, might stake a claim to their resources. Thus, Gerold travelled to Savigny to place his monastery under the direct subjugation of the mother-house of the order. By 1142 the community had relocated to Old Byland, and had sufficient resources to create its first grange at Wildon.(5) This was the first of several granges established. A number of these agricultural centres were created in the Nidderdale region; three were created further afield in Westmorland.