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Kirkstall Abbey: the sources (1)


A page from The Foundation of the Abbey of Kirkstall
© Abbey House Museum
<click to enlarge>
A page from The Foundation of the Abbey of Kirkstall  Abbey House Museum

Kirkstall is relatively well represented by a wide range of surviving sources. The Foundation of the Abbey of Kirkstall,(2) dates from the early thirteenth century and survives only in an early fifteenth-century copy now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.(3) The first part of this is a key source for the early history of the abbey, as it contains a full account of the foundation of the house and the first five abbots; this covers the period from 1147 to 1210. This section was probably written by Hugh of Kirkstall, who became a monk of Kirkstall c. 1183-4, and also wrote the Foundation of Fountains Abbey. The second part of The Foundation of the Abbey of Kirkstall simply lists the nine abbots who presided over the abbey from 1210-84. The third and final section includes important details concerning the history of the abbey in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. It contains a miscellany of information relating to the financial plight of the house at this time, a list of their possessions in 1284 and 1301, grants of royal protection and Abbot Hugh’s lengthy letter to his community from Gascony, reporting on his meeting with the king.