Library Services


Monastic Database

The English Monastic Archives tripartite Database comprises a systematic guide to one of the largest and most important sets of documents anywhere in the pre-modern world.

Browse the Monastic Database

About the database

The database is designed to be a research tool: it is a guide to the types and current locations of documents generated by medieval English monasteries, but not, as a rule, to the information contained within those documents. You can read more about the database and its history on the project website.

This version of the database allows browsing by house, country, repository or time period. You may also search the database as a whole. Results are returned as XML records only.

Search tips

You can refine searches with the help of the Search box at the head of each category’s ‘entrance’. For example, if you want estate records from Battle Abbey, you could do one of the following:

  • Go to ‘Source Genres’, type ‘Estate Records’ into the search box, and when you get the results, type Battle into the search box. OR
  • Go to ‘Religious Houses’, type Battle into the search box, and when you get the results, type ‘Estate Records’ into the search box.

An alternative way to use the database is to start from the Digital Collections search, on Explore; and then type in a keyword. Smart or targeted searches can be made by simply entering two keywords, e.g. Abingdon and chronicles, for the various chronicles compiled at Abingdon abbey or relating to that house.

The following is a how to tip from one of the two key project workers:

‘One can only browse through the various search categories, and this browsing doesn't really yield anything useful unless it is narrowly targeted, such as searching by house, county or repository. When one has brought up individual items by this browsing, the trick is then to click on the first digital option that displays descriptions of the individual items on the right side of the screen in the form closest to how they appeared in the original Filemaker Pro database. This way you can see all of the information that has been input (including the provenance information and the name of the repository in which the archive item(s) are held), although the latter is not identified as such in the UCL library's database because it had to be fit into the broad digital categories of the other databases on the library's website.’
Supplementary information

The EMA project also generated a listing of all the 16,000 estates that belonged to English religious houses, with dates of acquisition and bibliographical references etc. Hard copy of this is in M. Jurkowski and N. Ramsay, with S. Renton, English Monastic Estates, 1066-1540: A List of Manors, Churches and Chapels, 3 vols, List and Index Society, Special Series, 40 (Kew, 2007). 'the Scouloudi Foundation in association with the Institute of Historical Research' helped make this possible.

All the EMA data is also being made available in another format via the Institute of Historical Research’s British History Online website. This does not allow for such flexible searching but it contains much extra data.


This database was the brainchild of Dr Nigel Ramsay. Dr Maureen Jurkowski was crucial to its success. Many others participated, notably Simon Renton, Ann Hignell, a series of inputters whose names are immortalized on the database, and specialists in the UCL library, most recently Rob Drinkall, Margaret Stone, and Steve Wright, integrated the Database into the UCL Library website. The project was generously funded by the AHRB/C, the British Academy, and the Marc Fitch Fund.