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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

Roche Abbey: lands


Ela de Warenne, daughter of Earl Hamelin and widow of Robert du Neubourg and William Fitzwilliam (d. 1219-24) granted the monks of Roche, in her widowhood, five virgates of land in Rottingdean, Sussex, and three villains and their sequels (1219-40); the abbey did not, however, retain this property for too long and sold it to the dean and chapter of Chichester in 1227-41.
[Early Yorkshire Charters VIII, p. 21, pp. 134-5 (no. 96), p. 135.]

The Cistercians sought to live simply by the fruits of their own labour; each abbey thus required a variety of possessions, such as arable and pastoral land, woodland, mills and fisheries, to sustain a self-sufficient community. At its foundation every house was endowed with the resources necessary to establish monastic life, and thereafter the abbey acquired additional lands and rights to support the growth of the community. Roche was a moderately-sized house and never had extensive holdings. As can be seen from the map, below, the abbey’s holdings stretched across the five counties of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Lancashire. For a short while the community had one outlying property at Rottingdean, Sussex (see right). Most of Roche’s possessions were concentrated within a fifteen-mile radius of the abbey, and a number of these lay within five miles of the house.

Whilst we do not have a complete record of the abbey’s holdings, from charters and, more importantly, papal and royal confirmations of Roche’s possessions, we can compile a list of most places where the community held lands at some point during their four-hundred year history. Some of the places mentioned in the deeds no longer exist and whilst several of these can be located, others, such as ‘Innesby’ and ‘Ennus’ / ‘Ernuse’ cannot be identified; these are listed in the table but have not been plotted on the map. It is also difficult to identify and locate places whose names have changed, and when there are several locations of the same name within the same vicinity to determine which of these belonged to the monks.

Map of the lands of Roche abbey
Map of the lands of Roche abbey