Academic Year 8

Thornton’s historians put themselves in a monk’s shoes.

Year 8s are busy digesting the details of one of the most revolutionary events in English history – Henry VIII’s break with Rome and the subsequent Dissolution of the Monasteries in the late 1530s. 

To really get under the skin of the people affected by this period of upheaval, Mrs Lewis invited her pupils to step back almost 500 years in time and imagine themselves in a monastery. The girls adopted different roles such as an Abbot or a student and moved around the ‘monastery’ (recreated in the school’s Assembly Hall) meeting one another and explaining what they did for a job there and why the place was so important to them.

When they heard the devastating news that Thomas Cromwell had been telling lies about the monks and their behaviour and so the monasteries were all going to be shut down (really Henry just wanted their wealth) they had to ask themselves how it made them feel.

‘This is your home,’ said Mrs Lewis. ‘Imagine being thrown out. What are you particularly anxious about now the monastery is shutting? Does it make you angry or sad, do you feel unwanted? If you’re an Abbot, what can you do now? If you work in the kitchens, how will you feed your family?’

The girls talked about why the disbandment of religious houses would have been so devastating for people at the time and their homework was to then write a letter to King Henry begging for him to spare their monastery as it did so much good for people.





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