|Ruins of Lanercost Priory, Cumbria|
|The vast complex of Blackfriars, Norwich, middle distance behind another large church.|
|Anglo-Saxon tower of St Mary-le-Wigford, Lincoln, one of three surviving medieval churches.|
|Southwell Minster, collegiate church.|
|St Cross Hospital, Winchester|
|Blackfriars complex, Norwich, largest surviving in the land.|
|Ruins of the bishop's palace at Lincoln.|
Essentially the church had space, the church had walls. Then within a very short period of time, those walls came down. The friaries and some collegiate churches seem to have disappeared quite rapidly, their walls pillaged for building materials, their buildings sometimes used for other civic purposes, but steadily running down. Leland, in his travels around England immediately after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, refers to the friaries and urban abbeys in the past tense, which they certainly were in terms of being institutions but probably rapidly became so in terms of fabric. Daniel Defoe, describing Lincoln in the early 18th century, claims that barns, stables, out-houses and "hog-styes" were built "church fashion" using carved stones from old ecclesiastical buildings.
|A bit of old stone wall, all that exists of the Austin friary in York.|
|Rievaulx Abbey as garden ornament.|
These changes to the use of space were probably less obvious in rural areas. Large rural monasteries were taken over by large rural landholders who nicked stonework to build their new mansions but left ruins for their aesthetic value and swank. You can see how a medieval monastery was laid out and worked in the wild hills of Yorkshire better than in the crowded towns.
|Norwich Cathedral with beat up remains of monastic cloisters.|
|Partially ruined collegiate church at Howden.|
|Holy Trinity Hospital, Leicester.|
|Where a bishop's palace once was, Northallerton.|
New urban amenities were built, such as grammar schools to replace the teaching functions of the church schools. It does seem that some areas of the towns were ransacked for their materials and became a bit derelict until the renewal of urban amenities in the 19th centuries. Post offices, railway stations, theatres, museums and art galleries so often occupy the sites of medieval religious institutions. Changes to trade, transport and commerce over time caused towns as a whole to open up as walls and gates were demolished. This process has gone to extremes with modern road transport in some places. (I'm looking at you, Leicester and Nottingham.)