Thursday, 26 April 2012

A damning report on a monastery

The vaulted refectory at Waverley Abbey
In 1534 Dr Richard Layton was sent by the English government to investigate the state, wealth and condition of Waverley Abbey in Surrey. His report was scathing.

“May it please your mastership to understand that I have licenced the bringer of this note, the Abbot of Waverley, to repair unto you for liberty to survey his husbandry whereupon consisteth the wealth of his monastery. The man is honest, but none of the children of Solomon. Mr Treasurer has put servants to him whom the poor fool dare neither command nor displease. Yesterday, early in the morning, sitting in my chamber in examination of accounts, I could neither get bread nor drink, neither fire of these knaves till I was fretished. And the Abbot durst not speak to them. I called them all before me and forgot their names, but took from every man the keys of his office and made new officers for my time here, perchance as stark knaves as the others. It shall be expedient for you to give him a lesson and tell the poor fool what he should do. Among his monks I found corruption of the worst sort. Thus, I pray God to preserve you.

“Your most assured servant and poor priest, Richard Layton.”

from A LITTLE BOOK OF SURREY by Rupert Matthews.
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