The monastic houses were natural magnets for settlements. Their residents tended to be affluent, providing a market for consumer goods and employment for servants, artisans, labourers and farm-hands. Abbeys and priories were inns, hospital, farms and schools, offering many of the basic ingredients needed for nascent urban centres. Clergy usually drew up the ‘custumals’ (inventory of holdings, services and practices) and court-rolls in Medieval boroughs. Founding and chartering boroughs was a sound investment for ecclesiastical institutions, providing a constant income from rents, tolls, licence fees and court fines. Trade was also encouraged. The Earl of Cornwall granted the rights to three fairs to Marazion’s Benedictine priory in 1257, and Minchinhampton’s borough and market came under the purview of the local convent. Monastic overlords were often less popular than royal, noble alternatives, interfering more in the town’s activities. Townsfolk in Bury St Edmunds rebelled and plundered their abbey in 1327.
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