The Reign of William the Conqueror

Lanfranc and the Anglo-Norman Church

Winchester Cathedral, begun 1079: the north transept seen from the crossingWithin a few years of 1066 most English bishops were replaced by Normans; Lanfranc, Abbot of Caen, was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1070. He saw the English church as ill-disciplined and made a number of reforms. A strict church hierarchy was created with Canterbury given primacy over all the English bishoprics including the archbishopric of York. To make them more effective, a number of bishoprics were moved from small places to towns. In East Anglia, for example, the bishopric was moved from Elmham to Thetford and then to Norwich.

The church of St Botolph's Augustinian Priory, Colchester founded before 1200 [Photo: Patrick Ottaway]The new Norman bishops were soon dissatisfied with the appearance and size of the buildings they inherited. A massive building boom began resulting in new cathedrals in Romanesque style at, for example, Canterbury, St Albans, Winchester and York.

Monastic houses acquired Norman abbots and there was an influx of monks from Normandy. Towards the end of the 11th century Norman lords began to found new monastic houses, often in towns near their castles, thereby emphasising the close relationship between secular and religious power.

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