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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

A rumpus with royalty


The Coucher Book of Kikrstall abbey
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Couchers book

The monks’ lands at Barnoldswick lay adjacent to the forest of Blackburnshire and straddled the Yorkshire / Lancashire border. They were the source of a particularly lengthy and litigious dispute in the early years of Edward III’s reign (1327-77), for when the forest of Blackburnshire came into royal hands in 1322 the abbey lost its common rights on this land. The forest had previously been held by Kirkstall’s patronal family, the Lacys. Abbot William Driffield of Kirkstall launched proceedings against King Edward and his mother, Queen Isabella, over the restoration of the abbey’s common rights here. The abbot argued that in 1287 about 840 acres of Kirkstall’s moorland, woodland and pasture at Barnoldswick had been taken by Earl Henry de Lacy into his forest at Blackburnshire, in return for Henry’s aid during the community’s financial difficulties The legal process was a long and drawn out affair, which occupies thirteen pages of manuscript in the Coucher Book. Kirkstall’s perseverance was not in vain, and in 1335 the monks were awarded seisin (possession) of the 420 acres in Yorkshire.(11)