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


Where were the bodies buried?

Conisborough Castle
© Kathleen Thompson
<click to enlarge>
Conisborough Castle

Whilst the Ecclesiastica Officia, the official customary of the Order, assumed that all burials would take place in the cemetery, members of the community and outsiders might be buried in the church, in the cloister walks or in the chapter-house - the latter was largely reserved for former abbots and dignitaries.

…in the chapel of the Blessed Mary, before her image, situated in the southern part of the church of the said monastery
Read Matilda’s will.

During the Interdict the monks of Meaux Abbey in Yorkshire were buried in the monks’ garden, whereas the abbey servants were buried outside the precinct.(7) From the thirteenth century laity were often buried near the west façade of the church or in side chapels: Matilda, of York, countess of Cambridge, was a generous benefactor of Roche and in her will of 1446 left explicit instructions as to how she should be buried in the abbey church and how her soul should be provided for thereafter. In return the monks of Roche received payment, gifts and presumably secured the goodwill and future benefaction of her successors at nearby Conisbrough Castle.

From the late twelfth century the burial of laity in the cloister walks was common but could be hazardous, since the monks might trip over tombstones that were uneven and jutted above the surface. To combat any such accidents the General Chapter ruled in 1191 that the slabs of these graves should be level with the ground.(8)

Nineteen abbots were buried in the chapter-house at Fountains.


<back> <next>