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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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The acquisition of lands and resources
Cartulary of Byland abbey
© British Library
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Cartulary of Byland abbey

The twelfth century was the heyday of Byland’s expansion, and the community acquired a number of lands at a remarkable rate. There were various ways in which the monks could expand their holdings. They might receive these as gifts, freely given by men and women who hoped in this way to secure their salvation. Land might be given in return for money or goods, or in exchange for other land. Moreover, the monks themselves might solicit certain lands and rights, especially if they were trying to develop interests in areas where they already had estates or worked a grange. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to tell which grants were freely given and which were the result of coercion, or even disguised sales.

A thirteenth-century grant
In the late thirteenth century, Brother Imbert, Master of the Templars, granted Byland pasture land, some four miles to the east of Thirsk. Byland had already made an enclosure near their sheep-fold (bercariam) here, at Whitestonecliff. Brother Imbert stipulated that should any animals belonging to the Templars’ men of Kereby stray within the monks’ enclosure, the animals should simply be driven back and not harmed in any way.

[Yorkshire Deeds I, no. 447 (p. 161-2); IX, no. 440 (pp. 167-168)]

Byland attracted a wide range of benefactors. They included members of the great magnate families, chiefly the family and household of the community’s founder, Roger de Mowbray, but also members of the Percy family. One less renowned, but no less important benefactor was Turphin of Warcop. Whilst Turphin was chief lord of his vill and a notable figure within the locality, he was little known outside Westmorland. Byland acquired extensive holdings in Westmorland through the generosity of Turphin and his family. This subsequently became an important area for the community, and the monks had established at least one of their three granges here by the late twelfth century.(11) Byland received grants from individuals, from husbands and wives acting jointly, and widows. For example, John of Bateby and his wife, Margery, granted the community various lands, including all their meadows in Claverley. In the late twelfth / early thirteenth century, John of Harding’s, widow, Margery, confirmed all the lands her husband had given to or exchanged with the monks. (12)