When we visited the Abbey we were lucky enough to walk around with a person named Tim, he told us lots of information about the river and how monks made lots of laws. He was dressed up as a monk in their robes which were brown with a white rope around his middle.
We learnt that there was a fight about the river when they built the weir because the merchants couldn’t get through on their boats and they attacked them. They burnt down some houses and killed some people but the weir survived. They caught some of the people who attacked them and chopped their heads off – it was all quite gruesome! King Henry VIII decided to demolish the abbey and he gave the leader of the abbey, the abbot, a nice house and money. However some of the leaders of other abbey’s like Reading didn’t want to close and tried to stand up to the King so he had them killed by chopping off their heads.
The river was used by the monks for their ‘business’. When the river flooded the land next to it became richer and fertile, the plants grew much better. One side of the river – pasture was used for animals and the other for farming vegetables like onions, parsnips and turnips. I learnt that when the monks needed to fertilise the plants they would use animal poo but only from animals that didn’t eat meat because otherwise it would kill the flowers and plants – also carrots didn’t used to be orange they were originally purple!
The Abbey was used by up to 80 monks. There were lots of other buildings to support the Abbey. There was a mill and lots of fields to crops and food in. The monks grew turnips, corn, wheat and carrots which were all useful when you were making 840 meals a day. The cook had a lot of workers working for him; he was the third most important person in the Abbey after the Abbot and the Prior. Did you know that if you were ill you were allowed meat every day. If you weren’t ill you would only have meat once a week.
They think there are artefacts in the river next to the Abbey so they want to try to clear out the river of the silt. This way they will be able to get out the artefacts so they can put them in museums for lots of people to see. They are currently trying to get permission to do this.
We went to see the outline of the old abbey and it was really big. I asked why they didn’t rebuild the church and Tim said it was because it wouldn’t look the same and it wouldn’t be an artefact anymore because they would have built the new church on it. I didn’t realise that the ruins in Abbey Park were fake. They are only 100 years old. They were built to recreate what it might have looked like. The only part of the Abbey that is left is the outline.
Report by Kai, VJ, Anton, Ryan and Jakson