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Greater Medieval Religious Houses
Greater religious houses fall into two main categories; namely monasteries which were institutions in which monks and canons lived and largely stayed, in a precinct, isolated from the secular community, and collegiate churches which were staffed by colleges of priests, who were active in that community, sometimes living at some distance from their colleges; I associate with them, chantries, which were often smaller, but replicated their organisations and functions. To a degree, friaries represented a half-way house, in that their occupants were active in the community, but they lived in buildings organised like monastic precincts. Another smaller category, comprised the buildings of the Knights Templar, and Knights Hospitaller, which had their own distinctive pattern. All of these institutions were founded before the Reformation, c1540 in England and c1560 in Scotland, and their buildings experienced different outcomes, thereafter. Some were already attached to cathedrals, or became so, and their buildings were little altered; the churches of other greater religious houses became parish churches, perhaps reduced in size; claustral and college buildings were often simply demolished, but some became the core of great houses, retaining the abbey or priory name. A total of 751 greater religious houses which have left coherent, accessible remains are listed in this document; 601 had been visited before I had to cease touring the country. For each, I have produced a single-page sheet, which includes a photograph and information about the institution as it was, and about what remains. I have collected them into 25 sets for counties and regions, fronted by a listing which provides general information. Much of the information, and most of the photographs came from my own visits, but a bibliography lists my other main sources.