Monastic Hospitality

November 2007
4 black and white, 4 line illustrations
260 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in the History of Medieval Religion
ISBN: 9781843833260
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC REL033000, REL086000

Monastic Hospitality

The Benedictines in England, c.1070-c.1250

Julie Kerr

How guests were cared for in medieval monasteries, exploring the administrative, financial, spiritual and other implications.
Hospitality was an integral part of medieval monastic life. In receiving guests the monks were following Christ's injunction and adhering to the Rule of St Benedict, as well as taking on an important role within society and providing a valuable service for fellow religious.
This book draws on a wide range of sources to explore the practice and perception of monastic hospitality in England c. 1070-c. 1250, an important and illuminating time in a European and an Anglo-Norman context; it examines the spiritual and worldly concerns compelling monasteries to exercise hospitality, alongside the administrative, financial and other implications of receiving and caring for guests. Analysis focuses on the great Benedictine houses of Southern England [Abingdon, Bury St Edmunds, Canterbury, Reading, St Albans] for which a substantial and diverse body of material survives, but they are set in the context of other houses and other orders (chiefly the Cistercians) to show the wider picture in both England and Europe.

JULIE KERR is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews.

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Table of Contents

The impulse: what prompted monastic hospitality
The administrative structure
The reception of guests
Provision for guests: body and soul
Provision for guests: entertainment and interaction
The financial implications of hospitality
Appendix 1: Jocelin of Brakelond, monk of Bury St Edmunds
Appendix 2: The Waterworks Plan of Christ Church, Canterbury


The great achievement of this volume is the extensive detail it provides, giving a clear picture of monastic hospitality, which was an integral aspect of monastic life during the Middle Ages. CHURCH HISTORY
A case-study in the flexibility and adaptability of Benedict's Rule in twelfth-century England. It is informative, detailed, well researched, and a valuable addition to work in the field. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW
Fills a gap in understanding of the workings of monasticism. THE CHURCH TIMES
Addresses an important but understudied topic with intelligence and scholarly craft, and it should stimulate further study. SPECULUM
A very fascinating and important book. It is both scholarly and interesting, a combination not always found in works of research. It should be included in every good monastic library. CISTERCIAN STUDIES QUARTERLY
A much-needed addition to the historiography of an important area of the monastic practice. [.] It should be particularly commended for a very skilful interpretation of the sources. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW
A valuable contribution to the study of medieval English monasticism. [The author] and Boydell deserve the thanks of monastic historians for the successful completion and publication of a very ambitious project - one with the added advantage that it points the way to further research. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY
An interesting study with significant conclusions. NORTHERN HISTORY
Combines an understanding of the spiritual implications of the reception of guests-implicit in the Rule of St Benedict-with a sound discussion of the economic base of hospitality.[...]Julie Kerr's illuminating insight into the place of monastic hospitality in the life and economy of the English monasteries in the century and a half after the Norman Conquest provides a new approach to the study of medieval Benedictine life. DOWNSIDE REVIEW

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