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Ruined medieval barn at St Leonard’s Grange, Beaulieu in the New Forest
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Monastic granges were outlying landholdings held by monasteries independent of the manorial system.[1] The first granges were owned by the Cistercians and other orders followed. Wealthy monastic houses had many granges, most of which were agricultural providing food for the monastic community. A home grange might be established adjacent to the monastery but others were established wherever it held lands, some at a considerable distance. Some granges were worked by lay-brothers belonging to the order, others by paid labourers.[1]

Granges could be of six known types: agrarian, bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle farms), horse studs, fisheries or industrial complexes. Industrial granges were significant in the development of medieval industries, particularly iron working.[2] Bentley GrangeShaft mounds and earthworks south of Bentley Grange Farm are the remains of a medieval iron mining site between Emley and West Bretton in West Yorkshire. in West Yorkshire has the remains of one of Britain’s best preserved mining landscapes pre-dating the Industrial Revolution.[3]

Description


Granges were landed estates used for food production, centred on a farm and out-buildings and possibly a mill or a tithe barn. The word grange derives via the French graunge from the Latin granica meaning a granary.[4] The granges might be located at some distance from the religious houses. They could farm livestock or produce crops. Specialist crops might include apples, hops or grapes to make beverages. Some granges had fish-ponds to supply Friday meals to the monastery. The produce could sustain the monks or be sold for profit. While under monastic control, granges might be run by a steward and worked by local farm labourers or perhaps lay brothers.[2]

Citations



Bibliography


Burton, J. E. (1994). Monastic and Religious Orders in Britain, 1000-1300. Cambridge University Press.
Historic England. (n.d.). Iron mining shaft mounds and medieval earthworks south of Bentley Grange Farm [Database]. Retrieved from https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1005786
OED. (2018). grange, n. In Oxford English Dictionary (online).