go to home page go to byland abbey pages go to fountains abbey pages go to kirkstall abbey pages go to rievaulx abbey pages go to roche abbey pages
The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

Text only version

Byland Abbey: Location

Byland Abbey: History
Later Middle Ages

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

Byland Abbey: Lands

Cistercian Life







Contact Us

Urban properties

London property
In 1238 the General Chapter conceded that Byland might send two of its lay-brothers to live in its house in London. The General Chapter was clearly concerned to avoid any misbehaviour and stipulated that these men should be ‘of proven life and behaviour’.
[Williams, Cistercians in the Early Middle Ages, p. 394; Canivez, Statutes II, 1238:44 (pp. 193-194).]

Whilst the Cistercians sought to live ‘far from the haunts of men’ and worked the land from their granges, they required urban holdings for trade, for the storage of wool and, not least of all, to accommodate the abbot and monastic officials when travelling or conducting business relating to the house. Byland’s urban holdings included properties in Yarm and York, which were important for trade and the export of wool. Byland acquired property in York early on, and is known to have had holdings here from the mid/late twelfth century. The community had property here at Bootham, c. 1300, which is described as a cottage at the time of the Dissolution. Byland also had an inn in York (the Angel) and a close in Clifton, just outside of York.(79)
Read more about this property

The woolhouse at Thorpe
Byland’s important woolhouse at Thorpe Grange is now known as Thorpe-le-Willows, to the south of Ampleforth. ‘Willow’, in fact. Is a corruption of ‘woolhouse’. The woolhouse probably had accommodation for guests, as well as the lay-brothers, since a number of prospective merchants would have visited Thorpe to inspect the annual clip.
[McDonnell, ’A gazeteer of place names in the vicinity of Byland Abbey’, p. 45.]

York was a particularly important centre of trade, and Byland acquired substantial property at Clifton, just outside of the city by the River Ouse. The community increased expanded its holdings here by taking over Jervaulx’s lease of land, and between them, Fountains and Byland leased most of the lands closest to the river. This was a prime location, since it was close to the city yet escaped the congestion and also the stench of York. Moreover, Clifton was an important place for the delivery of wool to Italian merchants. In 1294 the community had contracts with the Italians of Lucca and Florence, and from 1299 to1305, Byland is recorded as selling an impressive 203 sacks of wool at Clifton.(80) Most of the wool that was stored at Byland’s woolshed at Thorpe grange was transported by packhorse over the Yearsley Ridge to Clifton, and from there it was shipped to the Continent. Byland is known to have had river-craft on the Ouse-Ure in 1329.(81) The woolhouse at Thorpe grange was ideally situated at the Coxwold-Gilling gap, and was used also by the nuns of Arden. (82)