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Dissolving Monasteries
and Reforming the Church

King Henry VIII claiming Monastic Treasures -  Nash Ford Publishing


Monk given his Eviction Notice -  Nash Ford Publishing


  • King Henry VIII was a sporty athletic type when he was young. He often lived at Windsor Castle and loved to go hunting in the Forest. He is supposed to have seen the ghost of Herne the Hunter there.
  • The King was a right joker too. He was good friends with Abbot Hugh of Faringdon who ran Reading Abbey. Once the Abbot was not well when they were having dinner together. He said he wished he could eat as well as the King did.
  • Later, Henry had him arrested and thrown in prison with no food. Eventually the gaoler arrived with a big meal. The starving Abbot gobbled down the lot in no time. The King then burst in laughing and explained how he had granted the Abbot's wish!
  • Henry's wife, Catherine of Aragon, could not give him a son to inherit the Throne. So he tried to divorce her so that he could marry a lady called Anne Boleyn.
  • They were Catholics. The Pope was in charge of all Catholics but he would not help the King. So Henry created a new 'Church of England' with himself in charge and granted his own divorce. This was a Protestant religion. The change marked the beginning of the 'Reformation' in England.
  • Henry was short of cash. So when the monks would not join his new religion, he kicked them out of their monasteries and took all their lands and treasures. Shrines were destroyed. The buildings were torn down and the stone sold off. This is called the 'Dissolution of the Monasteries'.
  • At Bisham Abbey, the Abbot cursed the King. At Reading Abbey, King Henry's old friend, Abbot Hugh, would not leave. The King sent in the soldiers. Hugh was strung up and hanged outside the Abbey Gateway. Part of the Abbey then became a Royal Palace.
  • Abbot Thomas let King Henry do what he liked at Abingdon Abbey though. He was given the monastery's best manor at Cumnor Place as a reward. Thomas lived there in luxury for the rest of his life!
  • Despite all the religious changes, Henry remained a Catholic at heart. Some extreme Protestants wanted lots more changes. The King burnt them at the stake in Windsor and other places.
  • King Henry was old and fat when he died at Westminster in Middlesex. His body was taken to St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle for burial. On the journey, it became bloated with puss and exploded! His insides spilled on the floor and some dogs ate them.
  • His ghost is said to haunt the deanery cloisters at Windsor Castle. Spooky!


    Nash Ford Publishing 2004. All Rights Reserved.