The UK Bible Students Website
Attached to it were a large number of lay workers, and everything required both for them and for the monks themselves would be made within the monastic precincts.
Whether a new aisle was to be added to the church or a new pair of sandals provided for one of the inmates, everything – the plan, the materials, the labour, and the execution of the work – could be obtained without going outside the monastery’s borders.
Not the least important of such pursuits was that of agriculture. People who visit to-day the ruins of some abbey are wont to remark that its builders chose a very fertile and picturesque neighbourhood in which to place it.
But, more often than not, its original surroundings were barren and desolate. The monks themselves brought about the change; they drained the swamp, they irrigated the dry land, they planted trees and hedges, they transformed and improved out of knowledge the whole of the surrounding country, and the results of their labour remain to-day.’
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