Discover the Dissolution is a national enrichment project run by The National Archives for schools and history groups. The aim is to allow students of all ages to practice their research skills.
Groups are encouraged to use the Discover the Dissolution resources to locate a local monastery or nunnery that was involved in the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1530s. They can then use the internet, libraries, local archives or other resources available to them to explore the story of the site.
Once the research is complete, students can present their findings to others in the school and submit their work to the Discover the Dissolution Schools Map to be published online and made available for other students to use as an educational resource.
You can find the main Discover the Dissolution Resource here: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/eabbb11e62b941c1bf1474a83b5ce8a1
The Dissolution of the Monasteries changed the religious and political landscape of Henry VIII’s Kingdom dramatically in the 16th Century.
Your challenge is to find out how Henry VIII’s orders affected your local area. To do this you will need to use the internet, explore some books, find some documents or even visit a site near to you.
You might not be able to find out a lot of information about your specific site, but don’t worry, you can explore what life was like generally for people who lived or worked in monasteries and religious houses as well.
Below is a list of information you might want to look for:
- Where is the nearest monastery to your school?
- What order was the religion that it followed?
- How many people lived or worked there?
- What types of activities did they do?
- Was it a site of pilgrimage? If so, why?
- What type of clothes did they wear?
- Were they male or female, or was it a mixed house?
- How much was their monastery worth in 1535?
- What year did they surrender the monastery to the crown?
- Was the monastery connected to any rebellions or refusals?
- Was the monastery sold to someone else? If so, when?
- What happened to the monastery after it was closed?
- What happened to the people who lived or worked there?
- Did any of the people refuse to leave?
- What is the site like today?
- Are there any clues to the site’s location in the place or road names nearby?
- What do you think was the impact of the closure on the people in your local area?
Write a Valor Ecclesiasticus entry for your classroom. Work out the total value of your classroom in a standard week then work out a tenth of the value. This tenth is the tax your classroom owes the king.
Discover the value of classroom using the following rules:
- The classroom is worth £3 in building materials.
- Each hour of class use gives a £1 tithe.
- Each teacher using the classroom gives £2 in oblations.
- Each Teaching Assistant supporting in the classroom gives £2 in oblations.
- Each glue stick is worth a value of 5s.
- Each pair of scissors is worth 3s.
- Each ruler is worth 1s.
- Each highlighter is worth 2s.
- Each textbook is worth 8s.
- Each bookcase is worth £1.
Note: one pound = twenty shillings, one shilling = twelve pennies.
£ = pound, s = shilling, d = pence.
A day in the life
Discover as much as you can about what daily life would have been like for a member of your monastic house. Can you create a timetable for their day?
Who’s who in the Dissolution
Research a key figure of the Dissolution and create a report or presentation on their life.
- Thomas Cranmer
- Thomas Cromwell
- Robert Aske
- Richard Layton
- Thomas Legh
- John Ap Rice
- John Tregonwell
- Thomas More
- Elizabeth Barton
- Thomas Wolsey
- Edward Lee
- Thomas Boleyn
- Henry VIII
- Catherine of Aragon
- Anne Boleyn
- Thomas Audley
- John Fisher
Catholicism was not a single church in Tudor England. Research the different types of religious order to find out more.
- Austin Friars
Conduct your own research enquiry using these questions:
What did the monasteries do for the community?
You could answer this question with specific details about your chosen monastery or a general view of monasteries around the country. Think about their role with education, health care and social care.
What was the impact of the dissolution on women?
While the majority of monastic houses were male, there were many more options available for men leaving religious orders. What happened to the women who were forced to leave?
How did the Dissolution change the finances of Henry VIII’s Kingdom?
Henry VIII lived an expensive lifestyle. How did the Dissolution aid his financial difficulties and how did it boost the finances of the nobility?
The main resource can be found here:
Explore the individual maps within the resource:
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