Tudor Monastery Farm – 13th November, 9pm, BBC2

Posted By on November 11, 2013

Tudor Monastery FarmI mentioned this on The Anne Boleyn Files Facebook page last week but wanted to post here so that everyone who has access to the UK TV channel BBC2 can tune in and watch this series. Those of you who enjoyed The Victorian Farm, The Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, Tales of the Green Valley and The Victorian Pharmacy, will be excited about this six part series which starts this Wednesday (13th) at 9pm on BBC2.

Here is the blurb about the programme from the BBC Media Centre:

“Following the long-running success of BBC Two’s living history series, Victorian, Edwardian and Wartime Farm, this autumn BBC Two takes up residence in the stunning medieval landscape of Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Chichester to explore life on a Tudor Monastery Farm, complete with the greatest variety of 15th and 16th century buildings in the country.

Archaeologist Peter Ginn and historian Ruth Goodman, who is also a leading specialist in Tudor domestic life, return to front this six-part series. They are joined for the first-time by archaeologist Tom Pinfold to take on the role of the lay-folk who did the bulk of the farming and craftwork within monastic lands.

The team is turning the clock back to the year 1500 – a great turning point in British history. After centuries of war and plague, the nation was enjoying newfound stability and prosperity under the reign of its first Tudor King, Henry VII. But it also marked the last decades of the monastic system that had controlled every aspect of life for centuries.

For almost a 1000 years monasteries dominated the British landscape and were at the heart of the way medieval life was organised. Up to a quarter of the landed wealth in the Kingdom belonged to the Church and much of it was rented to farmers like Peter, Tom and Ruth.

From sheep farming and harvesting to fashioning a printing press and building a Tudor clock, the team will be put through their paces to give viewers a real-life account of what life would have been like at this time.

Tackling not just a new era but also a whole new way of life, scrupulous contemporary record-keeping and the latest archaeological finds will allow the team to pull this long-forgotten world into focus, and explore the whole of early Tudor-life in microcosm.

As well as showing the operations of day-to-day life, the series will explore the intricacies of social structure: at the relationship between the lay workforce and the inner sanctum, and between the wider world and the whole monastic community.”

There is also further information on the Exeter University website because Professor James Clark, of Exeter University, was the programme consultant and also appears in it as the team’s guide and mentor – see http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/featurednews/title_333067_en.html

See the BBC2 Website for more details on episode one and the series.

Source: BBC Media Centre.

By the way, the book to accompany the series is already on Amazon UK – click here.

11 thoughts on “Tudor Monastery Farm – 13th November, 9pm, BBC2”

  1. Cynthia says:

    Wish we in America could get this great programming! Maybe it will be on BBC America one day! And now a burning question for Claire: will we get to have an Advent Calendar this year? Please say “yes” !!

    1. Claire says:

      I hope you do get it on TV in the US as I’m sure it’s going to be a wonderful series. The book looks good, I’ve just ordered it.

      Yes, there will be an AB Files Advent Calendar!

    2. Anyanka says:

      I’ve seen most of them on WGBH Boston PBS station.

      For some reason, BBCCanada doesn’t go in for programmes like this so I’m dependant on getting PBS or trying to find them on youtube.

      I really enjoyed the other shows and IIRC, they also did a Tudor Christmas feast where Ruth got to make a roast peacock in his feathers.

  2. BanditQueen says:

    I am not as you say excited; but I am looking forward to tuning in or at least taping tomorrow as it is a Tudor Farm. I saw the Victorian Pharmacy; Victorian Farm and the Wartime Farm and they were very good; so I expect this to be good as well. I believe there were some leaps in farming technology and the ways in which it was organised during this period so this should be a particularly interesting series to follow. It is a favourite period of mine as well so will be watching. Thank you for putting up the listing as only noticed the programme on Sunday listing magazine and would have forgotten as have not yet set my reminders.

  3. Ann says:

    The previous shows have been posted to YouTube and can be found by searching on Ruth Goodman. Lots of fun and quite fascinating. There are also a couple of extra items – one on early Victorian hair arrangement, an interview with her, and a talk by her. Recommended for any history buff.

  4. Rebecca says:

    I’ve also seen them on Youtube and other websites that features tv shows/movies. I’m sure this will be uploaded to those weekly.

  5. BanditQueen says:

    This documentary was absolutely brilliant! It had people actually interested in what they were doing and with some practical expertise as well, not just some family taken from the public and put on a farm from the time, which made it more interesting and more authentic. The complexity of how things were made and the time and effort that went into even simple things like making a wooden bowl was remarkable. The preparations of the wicks for the ligths was interesting as having seen some examples at the Merchants House in Conwy it reminded me that candles were very expensive and all ordinary people had was wick that they lit and burnt at both ends to make it last longer. The wattle and dorb and the building of the pig enclosure was some job; real hard work needed and I loved the two cows for the plough. Having not worked for a couple of years they needed to be coaxed and trained to get used to the work again and just wanted their food; that bit was quite funny.

    A more serious part was the mention that at this tme the monasteries had begun to hire tennants to do their farming and wool for them; as it must be recalled that many of these monastic farmers, tennants and servants lost their jobs, homes and livings when the monastic houses were destroyed at the reformation. The Dissolution should have thought of that before closing these wonderful establishments. It is little wonder that the numbers of people begging and out of work going from parish to parsh for aid greatly increased. Monastic foundations were not just places of prayer and retreat they were centres for the whole community and provided work and homes for many people. They ran businesses as well and repaired roads and bridges and maintained the highways. They provided hospitals and schools and were places to inspire people. They were a great loss to all in England and Wales and Scotland and left a huge gap in our social fabric.

    Excellent drama: bring on episode 2.

  6. Benedictine Dave says:

    I felt hugely embarrassed for poor Professor Clark, who is the monastic expert and series adviser. He was dressed as a comedy monk in a habit made for a Hobbit that looked like some of the very worst offerings from ebay. Real images from the period show monks dressed in acres of heavy, coarse wool material, with round necks (not V-necks), the hem reaching the ground and sleeves deliberately made far too long and very wide as a mark of humility.

    I have been researching English medieval monasticism for over 13 years, almost full time, and I am still learning new things every day about the lives of English monks. It took just a few minutes of research on Google to come up with contemporary images of Benedictine monks from the 1500 period and I wonder why the programme researchers/costume adviser felt unable to do the same thing?

    Similarly, the brief shot of monks eating in a refectory looked more like McDonalds. Monastic refectories were always laid out with long tables near the walls and a large empty space in the middle. Monks sat with their backs to the walls, with nobody sitting on the opposite side. This intelligent and logical layout enabled the servants to bring food to table without reaching across the shoulders of anyone.

    1. Claire says:

      I was thinking that he looked a bit like he was off to a fancy dress party! That’s such a shame. I did enjoy the programme but I felt it was a little rushed, flitting from one thing to another, whereas I didn’t get that feeling with Victorian Farm and the others.

      Let me know if you’d be interested in writing a guest article on medieval monasticism as I’m sure people would love to read more on monks and their lives.

      Thank you for commenting.

      1. Benedictine Dave says:


        Thanks, I have sent a message to you about this.


    2. Andrew says:

      Obviously the monastery was not a set or recreated to period; it’s the (real, working) Abbey of St Gregory the Great in Somerset, South West England.

Please note: Comment moderation is currently enabled so there will be a delay between when you post your comment and when it shows up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.