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PocketHistoriesofRedditch-BordesleyAbbey
DesignedandProducedbyAnthonyGreen2015
TheCistercianMonkscreateamonasteryintheArrowValley
PocketHistoriesofRedditch-BordesleyAbbey
DesignedandProducedbyAnthonyGreen2015
In1098,theabbotoftheBenedictineAbbeyofMolesme,inFrance,dissatisfiedwiththelapseoftheorderfromthetruerulesofStBenedict,ledtwenty-oneofhismonksintotheareaofCiteauxtoestablishanewmonastery.Thisnewcommunityintroducedtheideaoflaybrothersbeingacceptedasfullmembersofthemonasticfamily,makingitpossibleforthemonkstobefreetofollowallthedemandsoftheBenedictineRule.In1112BernardofFontainesarrivedwiththirtyrelativesintowandbeganthesagaofCiteaux.BeforeBernarddiedin1153hehadfoundedthegreatAbbeyofClairvauxandhadsentforthmentostartsixty-fiveotherabbeys,hisbrotherabbotsstartedanother235,andsetupasystemwhichrespectedtheautonomyofeachhousebutassureditsfidelity.
CistercianMonks-AReturntoBasics
PocketHistoriesofRedditch-BordesleyAbbey
DesignedandProducedbyAnthonyGreen2015
Inthe12thCentury,theCistercianorderbeganaperiodofexpansionand,inNovember1128,withtheaidofWilliamGiffard,BishopofWinchester,WaverlyAbbeywasfoundedinSurrey,England.FromWaverley,afurtherfivehouseswerefoundedfrombefore1152,includingthemonasteryatBordesley.ThecharterforthecreationofBordesleyAbbeywasgivenin1138byEmpressMatilda.Thiswasduringthe‘civilwar’betweenMatildaandStephen,bothgrandchildrenofWilliamtheConqueror.WorkbeganontheAbbeyin1140and,asthevalleywasadifficultmarshyarea,thefirstrequirementwastodrainthearea.Themonksdevelopedacomplexdrainagesystemwhichincluded‘canalising’theRiverArrow,andit’stributaries,awayfromtheintendedsiteforthemonasterybuildings.
Atfirst,temporarywoodenbuildingswereconstructed,andthishasbeenverifiedbyexcavationsonthesite.However,withinafewyears,thesewerereplacedbystonebuildings.
BordesleyAbbey-theEarlyYears
MonksatGatetoAbbey(JMWoodward)
PocketHistoriesofRedditch-BordesleyAbbey
DesignedandProducedbyAnthonyGreen2015
TheCisterciansspecialisedinbuildingtheirmonasteriesindifficultareasandspecialisedinriverfloodplanes.Asaresulttheybecameexpertsinwatermanagementandwereoneoftheearliestexponentsoftheuseofwaterforindustrialuse.AtBordesley,millsandworkshopshavebeenfoundintheeastendoftheprecinctsitednexttoatriangularmill-pond.Thefirstmillbuildingwasbuiltin1174-76,butthiscaughtfireandareplacementmillwasbuiltinabout1187.Thisremainedforabout200years,withmodificationsandimprovements,untilitwasabandonedaround1370-1400.Unlikemanymillsusedatthistime,themillatBordesleyAbbeywasusedformetalworking.
BordesleyAbbeymill:reconstructionoftheperiod4mill.(DrawnbyBrianWilliams©BordesleyAbbeyProject)
Thewaterpowerwasusedtodrivetriphammersandbellowsandtherewouldhavebeenaforgeonthesite.ThisisoneoftheearliestexistingwaterpoweredmetalworkingMedievalwatermillfoundintheU.K.
IndustrialInnovation
PocketHistoriesofRedditch-BordesleyAbbey
DesignedandProducedbyAnthonyGreen2015
TheAbbeywasthehubofalandedestate.Itwasgivenlandbyimportantlandownersandthemonkscreatedfarmsknownas‘granges’throughoutWorcestershire,WarwickshireandGloucestershire.Bordesleyownedaround20grangeswhichwereworkedbylaybrothersandlabourers.ThesmallcommunitywhichbecameknownasRedditch(theareawasonredmarl,sotheditchesappearedtobered‘Red-Dyche’)wascreatedatthistimetosupportthemonasteryandincludedstonemasonstocontinuetheongoingrebuildofthemonasterybuildings.Bordesleywasalargescaleproducerofwool,whichwasamajor‘cashcrop’atthistime,andintheearly14thcentury,theflockwouldhavenumbered3,000sheepormore.However,inabout1350-1400amajorchangeinthecommunitytookplacewithaboutonethirdoftheareabeingabandoned.Thiswasprobablyassociatedwiththe‘BlackDeath’of1348,whichconsiderablyreducedthelabourforceandeffectivelyended‘serfdom’inEngland.
Dissolution1338(ImagecourtesyForgeMillMuseumandBordesleyAbbeyVisitorCentre)
TheAbbeysurviveduntil1538,whenHenryVIII,aspartofhiscampaigntoreducethepowerofthechurch,‘dissolved’themonasteriesandseizedtheirassets.Politically,hedidnothaveanyseriousoppositionfromthepopulationas,bythistime,eventheCistercianshadbecomerichanddebauched.
FromWealthtoDissolution
PocketHistoriesofRedditch-BordesleyAbbey
DesignedandProducedbyAnthonyGreen2015
Thesiteasyoucanseeittoday
ThesiteofStStephen’sChapelhastheoutlineofthechapelidentifiedandnumerousgravestonesfromthetime.
Excavatedremainsofmainbuildingswhichareavailableforview.Thereisanidentificationpanelwithaspokenintroductiontoeachaspectofthesite.
TheRiverArrowwascanalisedbythemonksoveradistanceofathirdofamile.
Thesiteofthetriangularmedievalmillpoolisclearlyvisibleinthelandscape
Atthehighestpoint,thereisanattractiveviewpointwithanidentificationboard.
AfterthecanalisationofRiverArrow,itisallowedtoreturntoit’soriginalroute.ThereisanattractivewalkingroutewhichfollowstheriverandreturnstotheAbbeyVisitorCentre.AwalkthroughtheAbbeySitecanbefoundonthewww.redditchwalks.org.uk(walkA1)website..
Themonkscreatedfishpoolsforfreshfish.Thesearestillinplaceandareanidealhabitatforwaterbirds.
TheBordesleyAbbeyVisitorCentrehasanexhibitionofartifactsfromtheexcavationsandahistoryoftheabbey.
PlanofBordesleyAbbeySite-GoogleEarthPleaserunoverRedMarkersforInformation