BISHOP MONKTON  -  THURSTAN, ARCHBISHOP OF YORK 

& THE FOUNDING OF FOUNTAINS ABBEY   1130-1132

   

At St Mary's Abbey, York  in around 1130  Richard, the Prior was having problems keeping some of his monks under control. He felt that the monks were not fulfilling the vows of their profession and were living a dissolute life.

However, his Abbot Geoffrey,disagreed with him and was satisfied with the way things were being run but Richard became increasingly concerned about the way the monks under his charge were behaving.  He was fearful that the brothers, who were guilty of great disobedience to their vows, would reek vengeance on him and he needed assistance, but the Abbot wouldn’t help. So along with 13 of the brothers he appealed to Archbishop Thurstan of York for help.

The Archbishop agreed to come but on arriving at the Abbey Thurstan and his men were denied entry. “The whole chapter house rang with such tumult and confusion that it seemed more like the uproar of drunken revellers.” With difficulty, Thurstan, the Prior and the 13 monks fled to the nearby St Olave's church and barred the door.  Later, Thurstan returned home taking the Prior and the 13 monks to lodge in his palace at York.  Meanwhile, the monks in the Abbey were still giving way to their rages and hatred. *

From York, Thurstan and the monks travelled to “Munchetone close to Ripun.” where they lodged at his manor. The manor of Monkton (Munchetone) was a parcel of ancient possessions of the Archbishops of York. Records show Thurstan in  Bishop Monkton at Christmas 1132

Thurstan formed a plan “Foundation of Fountains” dictated by the emergency of the moment to make a new Abbey for these displaced monks. It was to be funded by his lands and rents from several estates including York and Bishop Monkton with the help of the Cistercian order in Clairvaux France. This they did and by 1135 Fountains Abbey was no longer Benedictine but followed the humbler, Cistercian lifestyle. Archbishop Thurstan remained a friend and patron to the monks.


Archbishop Thurstan's letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury   

 www.dhi.ac.uk/cistercians/fountains/history/app4.php