Researching the history of monastic granges

19C drawing by Edward Blore of the Abbot's Grange, Broadway, Worcs. (British Library) Granges, as first developed in the 12th century by the Cistercians, were demesne farms staffed by lay brothers. Other monastic orders copied this development, converting some tenanted manors into granges. The grange buildings were like those of other manor houses. Some in Ireland or the northern borders of England were fortified.

From the 13th century chapels were added to selected granges for the use of lay brothers and visiting monks. Some granges had come into use as retreats for the abbot and monks. Those used as rest-houses after therapeutic bleeding could be called seynie-houses. A few such favoured granges developed a monastic plan, but these were exceptional. From c.1300 granges were increasingly let to lay tenants, except for home farms and those in use by monks.

Secondary sources

Primary sources

Leases of the capital messuage (manor house) may be recorded in a monastic cartulary, rental, court roll or account roll. For England, Ireland and Wales, those leases still operative at the Dissolution should be among the records of the Augmentation Office, along with subsequent Crown leases or grants (see Monasteries). If there is a clear run of deeds from that period to this, it should be easy to identify the building. Manorial records of all periods can be traced through the Manorial Documents Register now held in the National Archives.

Some buildings (e.g. castles and fortifications) on the estates of Irish religious houses are detailed in Extents of Irish Monastic Possessions, 1540-1541, ed. N.B. White (1943).

And see sources for houses and farms.