The common notion of a monk is a of man in a habit bent over a desk copying a manuscript, in prayer, in meditation or busy chronicling notable events, but these were only a fraction of what they were about.

St Thomas Aquinas

The monks and abbots were shrewd businessmen. As self-sufficient landowners they built farms, breweries and mills forbidding any other mills within the community and charging multure for their use. They collected rents for land and tolls for markets, encouraging the community to provide free labour to work the land as part of their penance. In return the monks passed on their craft skills to the community, provided food for needy, laundry’s, homes for orphans, refuges for the old, sanctuary for the accused, treatment for the sick, hospitals, libraries, accommodation for weary travellers and interest free credit for the local economy (interest on loans was strictly against church law). For any boy who wanted to join the order the monks provided education, training them to become doctors, archivists and tutors.