Suppression of Religious Houses Act 1535

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The Suppression of Religious Houses Act 1535[1]
Long title An Acte wherby all Relygeous Houses of Monkes Chanons and Nonnes whiche may not dyspend Manors Landes Tenementes & Heredycaments above the clere yerly Value of ij C Li are geven to the Kinges Highnes his Heires and Successours for ever.[2]
Chapter 27 Hen 8 c 28
Status: Repealed
The ruins of Binham Priory in Norfolk, one of the houses suppressed under the Act

The Suppression of Religious Houses Act 1535 (27 Hen 8 c 28), also referred to as the Act for the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries[3] and as the Dissolution of Lesser Monasteries Act,[4][5] was an Act of the Parliament of England.

It was passed by the English Reformation Parliament of 1535/36. It was the beginning of the legal process by which King Henry VIII set about the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was enacted in February 1535.

Sections 4 to 6 and 8 to 12 and 14 were repealed by section 1 of, and Schedule 1 to, the Statute Law Revision Act 1948.

Sections 17 and 18 were repealed by section 11 of 21 Jac 1 c 28.

The whole Act, so far as unrepealed, was repealed by section 1 of, and Part II of the Schedule to, the Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1969.


From the 14th century onwards, several popes had granted licenses for the suppression of religious houses in England.[6]

The breakdown of relations between Henry VIII and the Church in Rome, prompted by his marriage to Anne Boleyn, resulted in the Statute in Restraint of Appeals of 1533, forbidding all appeals to the Pope in Rome on religious or other matters.[7] Pope Clement VII responded by announcing Henry's provisional excommunication, and the hostility between the king and the pope escalated.[8] In the words of John Burton's Monasticon Eboracense (1758) –

The casting off the Pope's Supremacy, and the Monks being looked on only as a sort of half-subjects, ever ready to join any foreign power, which should invade the nation, whilst the King [Henry VIII] was excommunicated by the Pope... together with the [former] alienation of the lesser houses, were urged for seizing the rest; to which the King's want of a large supply, and the people's willingness to save their own pockets, greatly contributed; and accordingly, a motion shortly after was made in Parliament, that, to support the King's state, and supply his wants, all the religious houses might be conferred upon the Crown, which were not able to expend clearly above 200l. per annum. This Act passed about March, A. D. 1535.[6]

Parliament met on 4 February 1535/36 and received a digest of the report Valor Ecclesiasticus, a visitation of the monasteries of England commissioned by the King, and soon after passed the Act.[9]

The Act applied only to lesser houses "which have not in lands, tenements, rents, tithes, portions, and other hereditaments, above the clear yearly value of two hundred pounds", attacking such houses as dens of iniquity and proposing that those in them should be "committed to great and honourable monasteries of religion" and "compelled to live religiously".[10]


The preamble of the Act states -


The main effect of the Act was to expropriate the lesser religious houses to the King, who (in the words of the Act) "shall have to him and to his heirs all and singular such monasteries, abbeys, and priories, which at any time within one year next before the making of this Act have been given and granted to his majesty by any abbot, prior, abbess, or prioress, under their convent seals, or that otherwise have been suppressed or dissolved... to have and to hold all and singular the premises, with all their rights, profits, jurisdictions, and commodities, unto the king's majesty, and his heirs and assigns for ever, to do and use therewith his and their own wills, to the pleasure of Almighty God, and to the honour and profit of this realm".[10]

This section includes a retrospective effect, regularizing suppressions of houses which had already taken place.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The citation of this Act by this short title was authorised by section 5 of, and Schedule 2 to, the Statute Law Revision Act 1948. Due to the repeal of those provisions, it is now authorised by section 19(2) of the Interpretation Act 1978.
  2. ^ These words are printed against this Act in the second column of Schedule 2 to the Statute Law Revision Act 1948, which is headed "Title".
  3. ^ William John Hardy. Documents Illustrative of English Church History. Macmillan and Co Ltd. 1914. Page 257.
  4. ^ Hughes, Phillip. A Popular History of the Reformation. Image Books. 1960. p 185.
  5. ^ Mclynn, Frank. The Road Not Taken: How Britain Narrowly Missed A Revolution. Random House. 2012. ISBN 1446449351. p 89.
  6. ^ a b John Burton, MD, Monasticon Eboracense (York: 1758), quoted in The Monthly Review p 275 at
  7. ^ Act in Restraint of Appeals, full text at
  8. ^ J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (1972), pp. 414–18
  9. ^ An act for the Dissolution of the lesser Monasteries at
  10. ^ a b c Act for the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries, full text at