Contract signed: Monasticism in Suffolk

A reconstruction of Leiston Abbey © English Heritage

I have just signed a contract with Lasse Press for a book entitled Monasticism in Suffolk, due to be published in March 2020, which will be a complete history of religious communities in Suffolk from the beginnings of Anglo-Saxon Christianity to the present day. This celebration of monastic life in Suffolk coincides with the millennium of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk’s most important monastic house (which was the subject of my earlier book The Abbey of Bury St Edmunds: History, Legacy and Discovery). However, this book will go well beyond Bury St Edmunds to tell the stories of all of the county’s monasteries, both great and small, and will cover both male and female religious communities.

The book will chronicle the ‘monastic ecosystem’ of one county through time, paying equal attention to medieval monasticism and post-Reformation revivals of monastic life. As an appendix, the book will include a complete gazeteer of all ruined or extant religious houses in Suffolk. Suffolk’s wealth and the desire of patrons to vie with one another produced a remarkable variety of religious houses both great and small, ranging from the mighty behemoth of Bury St Edmunds to tiny cells of monks and nuns. The book will make accessible for the first time the huge historical literature on monasticism in Suffolk in the form of a readable yet comprehensive and authoritative survey, illustrated in full colour throughout with many photographs of monastic sites.

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