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  • 2022TinmouthPhDFinal

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Stella, Parens Solis, John Stell rege, munere prolis: The Construction of Institutional Memory and Identity in the Furness Abbey Coucher Book

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Chris Tinmouth
Publication date28/07/2022
Number of pages266
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis undertakes detailed quantitative and literary investigation of the 15th century monastic cartulary produced at Furness Abbey, known as the Furness Coucher Book, to understand how an institutional memory and identity for Furness Abbey was produced through selective inclusion, editing and organisation of its copied material. I compared the copied material in the Coucher Book with original material contained in the Furness Abbey archive, preserved in the Duchy of Lancaster muniments, and with enrolments in central government archives, to investigate this process by which such selective inclusion, editing and organisation of material was carried out. I undertook quantitative analysis of extant material, its inclusion and organisation, across both volumes of the Coucher Book, to determine what the editorial priorities of the compilers were and how these influenced the creation of an institutional memory and identity for Furness Abbey. The Metrical Introduction to the Coucher Book was also analysed in terms of its contribution to fostering a particular interpretation of the foundation of Furness Abbey, and how this complemented the editorial decisions of the cartulary compilers. Using the Boyville and Huddleston benefactors as case studies, I investigated in detail how the 15th-century Coucher Book compilers incorporated memories of these 12th-13th century abbey benefactors into an institutionalised interpretation of how Furness Abbey developed. I set the Coucher Book in a wider context of production of monastic cartularies in Britain and Ireland, both through quantitative analysis of shared features identified in the catalogue produced by Davies, and through in-depth comparison of how institutional memories were produced in the cartularies of Lanercost Priory, St. Leonard’s Hospital, York, and Kelso Abbey. I argue that the Coucher Book, as well as being a record of property, was a conscious project for projecting an institutionalised history of Furness Abbey for a monastic and wider audience.