Llanthony as a Grange

Llanthony Secunda Manor was first built in the 12th century. It started out life as a grange building. Only the eastern range was built at this time and it was probably only of two floors with a high pitched roof and a central fire on the first floor.

GIM 'About a Monk' French c1280Grange buildings were out-posts or farmsteads which were owned by a monastery. They were often directly worked from the monastery although in the later medieval period they were often rented to tenant farmers. Granges worked in much the same way as demesne lands of a manor. Their income was derived from court fees, forestry, rights of pasture, tanneries, dovecotes, bee-keeping, livestock, wool, and mills, while no grange earned money from all these sources they were all possible sources of income from which they might choose to focus.

Rents were an important source of income for all monasteries. *Llanthony Prima received £5-£7 per year from its customary tenants in Caldicot. While Llanthony Secunda Abbey also received between £5-£7 from rents in Caldicot.

It is interesting to note that in the middle ages there was something called a right to wreakage which means exactly as it sounds in that a person or property could hold a right to claim anything which washed up on its shores. *”In March of 1334 when the ship Le maroite, sailing from Bordeaux to Bristol with a cargo of wine, was wreaked near Goldcliff. When the cargo was claimed it was found that among others, the prior of Goldcliff, one of the monks, John le White vicar of Nash, a cleark John de Usk, John Vicar of Caldicot, joined by the parson of Portishead had helped themselves to it.”

GIM 'Eadwine Psalter' England c1150In the 15th century an addition was put onto the manor. It was common at this time for kitchens to be added to houses having previously been in separate buildings due to the risk of fire. By the 15th century though fireplaces were common and often kitchens were added inside buildings as occurred at Llanthony. Above the kitchen they added the dormitory rooms for the monks their were at least 3 rooms added in this block above the kitchen. Each of these rooms had 4 small windows with prayer seats, a central fire, stair tower and garderobe. This addition is relatively unaltered from its original use and today it can clearly be seen how it was intended for the monks use. The windows help us to date this extension. By the 15th century glass was available and windows began to be made smaller so that they could be glazed. The tiny windows in this extension as well as the kitchen addition clearly place it in the 15th century.

We know that Llanthony Secunda Manor carried on as a working grange until the dissolution of the monasteries when Henry VIII took possession.

* Rents taken from Redditum Custum’ten’
* Wreakage from Calendar of Paten Rolls 1330-1334 pg. 547