he Abbey of St Agatha, Easby
The Abbey of St. Agatha, Easby was founded in 1152 by Roald, Constable of Richmond Castle. Easby is a house of the Premonstratensian order, founded by St Norbert of Pemontre, Laon, France in 1120. The inhabitants were canons rather than monks and were known as "white monks". They undertook preaching and pastoral work in the region (such as distributing meat and drink) but followed a code of austerity similar to that of Cistercian monks. Other Premonstraterian houses include Egglestone (Co Durham) and Shap (Cumbria).
The Abbey's location in the river valley led to oddities in planning the layout. The monastery was approached from the south-east of the cloister, so that the infirmary buildings which usually occupy this position had to be placed on the north of the site and were entered through the north transept. For reasons of drainage, the monk's dormitory - conventionally on the upper floor of the east cloister range - was placed on the west side of the cloister.
Like most northern monasteries, Easby suffered from frequent Scottish raids during the Middle Ages. Ironically, great damage was caused to Easby and nearby Egglestone Abbey in 1346 when the English army was billeted there on its way to the Battle of Neville's Cross.
The image on the left shows an inner hall. The upper floor has long since disappeared however it's location is clearly visible from the walls. The floor would have been supported by strong wooden beams. Illuminated by the large window the hall also had a vaulted roof giving an overall impression of size and space. The ground floor in contrast was stone supported by stone archways as shown in the image on the left. Little light would have penetrated these lower chambers. Some would have been used as storerooms. Others as "cells" for the cannons.
In the late 1530s Henry VIII dissolved all monasteries. At this time Easby had an annual revenue of just under £112. The fine canopied choir stalls in Richmond parish church were removed from Easby at its dissolution. The canopy includes an interesting carved inscription listing ten characteristic breaches of monastic discipline.
See also George Cuit local artist

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