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The visitation records of the English Benedictine Monastery of the Glorious Assumption of Our Blessed Lady

Anderson, R (2016) The visitation records of the English Benedictine Monastery of the Glorious Assumption of Our Blessed Lady. In: Gender, Power and Materiality in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800, 7 – 9 April 2016, Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK.

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Abstract

This paper is part of a large work in progress based on previously unseen material from the Haslemere collection at Downside Abbey. 1 The main sources consist of approximately 28 boxes of loose, mostly unsorted, documents, kept in the archives of the Abbey. This collection contains the profession lists; obituaries; financial and legal documents; histories and other documents which demonstrate the social, cultural and religious activities of the nuns of the English Benedictine Monastery of the Glorious Assumption of Our Blessed Lady between foundation in 1597 and closure in 1976. Nunneries were quite often under the protection or oversight of some other ecclesiastical institution, and these might hold their own visitations. However, the Brussels Dames, as they became known, were under the jurisdiction of the local bishop, and so, as part of my current project, my paper will examine one aspect of this major collection: the visitation records, and the ‘Book of Bishops Visitations from 1794 to 1878 with names of Religious and Officials’ and ‘Acts of visitation (East Bergholt) 1922-39’. 2 The Visitation returns place in stark relief the intersection of gender, power, and materiality in these institutions. The records catalogue, for example, individual items that nuns held in safekeeping. These items undoubtedly had significance for these women and represented their interaction with the world of material culture. Yet at the same time, the nuns were accountable, as religious women, to a gendered ecclesiastical hierarchy that scrutinized these possessions. Convents can never be entirely female communities because of the need for a male Chaplain to hear confession and say mass. In addition they come under the authority of the bishops and their officials as visitors who inspect and regulate the conduct of the community.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2016 10:21
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2016 10:21
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