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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic



The process of Roche’s foundation was followed by a period of consolidation. This was essentially two-fold. The monks had to develop the site to support a self-sufficient community, and secure further benefactions to finance building-work and expansion.

MS 173: f 41r: the above image, from the Moralia in Job, shows a monk and a novice (or layman) felling a tree
© Bibliotheque Municipal, Dijon
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MS 173: f 41r: the above image, from the Moralia in Job, shows a monk and a novice (or layman) felling a tree.© Bibliotheque Municipal, Dijon

The monks initially lived in temporary wooden or mud huts that were erected before their arrival - an oratory, dormitory, guest-house and gate-house. Thereafter, the monks and lay-brothers would have laboured together to cultivate the land, to channel the water supply, and erect the remaining buildings and barns. The construction and maintenance of the buildings and fences required a considerable amount of timber. This was available from the surrounding woodland, and additional supplies were provided by Richard FitzTurgis, whose foundation charter of 1147 promised fifty cartloads of wood each year. This was clearly inadequate, for Richard de Busli later granted that the community might take sufficient timber from his wood at Maltby to complete their buildings. De Busli’s forrester was to supervise this operation, but if he twice refused the monks were simply to help themselves; the twelfth-century evidently had its fair share of temperamental workers. De Busli also acknowledged the community’s ongoing need for timber, and granted an additional eight waggon-loads of wood yearly for the upkeep of buildings and fences.

Rebuilding in stone began c. 1170, once the community had the necessary resources to support an operation of this kind. The nearby quarries at Roche provided a ready supply of high-quality stone that was durable, easy to work with and admired by contemporaries. The reconstruction was a lengthy process and it is likely that most of the claustral buildings were completed during Osmund’s abbacy, c. 1184-1213.

The acquisition of lands and possessions was necessary to support a self-sufficient community. This was actively pursued by Denis (c. 1159-71), the second abbot of Roche, and his successor Roger of Tickhill (c. 1171-9). Their achievement culminated in the papal confirmation of Roche’s possessions in 1186, which provides a detailed record of the nature and extent of their holdings at this time.

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