History Homework Help David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History for Kids

  Kids Home
  Early Kingdoms
  Teacher's Page
  Mail David

Click here for Activity Shets for Kids

The Dissolution of the Monasteries
What's that all about?

The Dissolution of the Monasteries -  Nash Ford Publishing


The Dissolution was an event during the Reformation of the Church, when King Henry VIII decided to close down all the monasteries in England & Wales in order to take all their money and make himself rich. He 'dissolved' the monasteries in London.
  • The monks or nuns had to leave:
    • If they didn't make a fuss, they got a pension for life.
    • If they spoke out against the King, they were hanged, like the Charterhouse monks.
  • Henry sent his servants called 'commissioners' to each monastery. They gathered up anything portable that was worth money:
    • They particularly liked metalwork like chalices, plates, jugs, crosses, candlesticks, reliquaries & feretories. Gold & silver was best.
    • They also took posh 'vestments' (clothes worn during church services)
    • Shrines, like St. Erkenwald's at St. Paul's Cathedral, were destroyed and relics burnt. They took any gold or jewels offered at them; or any cash the monastery might have.
    • They sold anything they could, even furniture & bedding. Although much of this was just burnt. Many beautiful carvings were destroyed.
    • What they really wanted were documents showing what land each monastery owned. This was worth the most money.
    • This was all sent back to the King.
  • Each monastery's land and buildings were sold off or given away to the King's friends:
    • Some monastery churches were sold (or partly sold) for use as parish churches, like St. Helen's Bishopsgate or St. Bartholomew the Great.
    • Some monastery buildings were converted to other uses.
      • They were often used as big houses for the gentry, like the London Charterhouse.
      • Many in London became shops or businesses.
      • Parts of the Blackfriars & Whitefriars became theatres.
    • Some were taken down. The stone & timber was sold for new building work.
    • Much beautiful stonework was destroyed.
  • The only monastery to survive intact was Westminster Abbey.


    Nash Ford Publishing 2012. All Rights Reserved.