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Name:Sempringham Priory
HER Number:30039
Type of record:Monument

Summary

Sempringham Priory

Grid Reference:TF 103 323
Map Sheet:TF13SW
Parish:POINTON AND SEMPRINGHAM, SOUTH KESTEVEN, LINCOLNSHIRE

Full description

PRN 30039
In about 1131, Gilbert de Sempringham set up buildings for seven maidens of the parish against the north wall of the parish church, and in 1139 Sempringham Priory was founded on a site to the south-west. It later became a double house which by 1319 had 200 women and 40 canons. The house was surrendered in 1538. Excavations in 1938-39 revealed extensive foundations of the Priory, and also showed that there had been a post-Dissolution mansion, in about 1580, which was pulled down in about 1616, before completion, and its plinth banked up to form the earthwork at TF1059 3253. North of this there had been a smaller 16th to 18th century farmhouse. To the east of the earthwork was found a small mound of post-Dissolution rubbish, which stood exactly over the south-east angle of the Priory Church. A sherd of Stamford Ware and 13th to 16th century pottery from the Priory site is in City and County Museum, Lincoln, 18.63. The 'bath' is a spring, possibly with conduit supplying the Hall or Priory. In 1929 it was a mudhole with fragments of tiles.{5}

The well and the fishponds of the priory remain. {1}{2}{3}{4}{5}{6}{7}

Perambulation of the Priory and surrounding fields revealed sherds of green glaze and other medieval pottery, also much building stone. {1}

Site of monastery where St Gilbert founded an Order of nuns in the 12th century lost after the Dissolution until 1939. Previously thought it had lain near the parish church (ie monastic church). The excavations of 1938-39 showed that the earthwork to the south of Marse Dike concealed remains of a Tudor mansion built on the nave of the monastic church. The north transept and chancel lay to the east of the earthwork, and it was divided medially for use by canons and nuns; it is thought that the north cloister was that of the canons. Only the earthwork and area between it and dike are unploughed, but no doubt foundations exist below the ploughed field. Pottery, tile and a stone scatter were noted in December 1968.{8}

Fishponds survive as a pair of elongated, swampy hollows, but the remainder lies under ploughland. Traces of buildings show on the surface over all the area, in particular the gatehouse at the site where the medieval track, Primrose Lane, reaches the site from the north.{9}

Thye 'bath' is now a mud hole with a trace of tile about two ditches that diverge towards the fishpond. Square development on side of more easterly. This clearly connected with Sempringham Hall. Looks like conduit head. {12}

The last Welsh princess, Princess Gwenllian born 1282, the only daughter of Prince Llewelyn and his wife Eleanor de Montfort, was banished to Sempringham priory as a baby. She lived in Sempringham as a nun for the rest of her life, dying in 1337, and is buried there. {13}

Features relating to the priory were identified during geophysical survey and aerial photograph interpretation. These include the piped water supply to the complex leading from the 'Holy Well' at St Andrew's church towards the northern cloister. Buildings in the outer precinct were also identified, and details of the church including the St Gilbert's shrine, steps, buttresses and vaulting shafts were identified by resistivity survey. Finds relating to the priory were recovered during fieldwalking. These include a 12th century gilt bronze tap from the area of the laver, along with book fittings, inscribed lead weights and a decorated travelling chalice case lid. Ironworking residues were collected adjacent to a mill-pond, and a bell-casting pit was seen outside the precinct. {14}


<1> OS CARD INDEX, TF 13 SW:4,1965, D.A. (Index). SLI2685.

<2> William Page (ed), 1906, The Victoria County History: Lincolnshire - Volume 2, VOL 2 P 179-87 (Bibliographic Reference). SLI1104.

<3> D. Knowles and R.N. Hadcock, 1953, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales - First Edition, - (Bibliographic Reference). SLI902.

<4> GRAHAM AND BROWN, 1940, JOURNAL OF THE BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION, VOL 5 3RD SER (Article in Serial). SLI476.

<5> Braun, H., 1939, Report on Excavations at Sempringham Priory, See parish file (Unpublished Document). SLI5410.

<6> 1962, EAST MIDLANDS ARCHAEOLOGICAL BULLETIN, P 18 (Index). SLI2232.

<7> RAF, 1946-50, RAF POST WAR COLLECTION, 106G:UK; 1431;5130-2,1946, (Aerial Photograph). SLI191.

<8> HBMC, 1969, AM 7, SAM 188 (Scheduling Record). SLI4095.

<9> HBMC, 1978, AM 7, SAM 188 (Scheduling Record). SLI4140.

<10> 1960, PARISH FILE, - (Correspondence). SLI1167.

<11> SMR FILE, TF 13 SW:L,1929, PHILLIPS, C.W. (Index). SLI3221.

<12> City and County Museum Collection, ACC NO 191.77 (Artefact). SLI8.

<13> Rogers, Byron, 1999, The Once and Future Princess, pp.52-54 (Article in Serial). SLI6861.

<14> Coppack, Glyn and Cope-Faulkner, Paul, 2007, 'Fieldwork and monasticism: field survey at Sempringham Priory, Lincolnshire' in The Archaeologist Spring 2007, no. 63 pp 14-16 (Article in Serial). SLI12150.

Monument Types

  • FISHPOND (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PRIORY (Medieval - 1131 AD to 1539 AD)
  • RELIGIOUS HOUSE (Medieval - 1131 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Finds

  • BOOK FITTING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WEIGHT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TAP (Medieval - 1100 AD to 1199 AD)

Associated Events

  • Excavations at Sempringham Priory
  • Magnetometry survey at Sempringham Priory and village
  • Resistivity survey at Sempringham Priory and village
  • Fieldwalking survey at Sempringham Priory and village

Protected Status

  • SHINE
  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

<1>Index: OS CARD INDEX. POINTON AND SEMPRINGHAM. TF 13 SW:4,1965, D.A..
<2>Bibliographic Reference: William Page (ed). 1906. The Victoria County History: Lincolnshire - Volume 2. VOL 2 P 179-87.
<3>Bibliographic Reference: D. Knowles and R.N. Hadcock. 1953. Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales - First Edition. -.
<4>Article in Serial: GRAHAM AND BROWN. 1940. JOURNAL OF THE BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION. VOL 5 3RD SER.
<5>Unpublished Document: Braun, H.. 1939. Report on Excavations at Sempringham Priory. See parish file.
<6>Index: 1962. EAST MIDLANDS ARCHAEOLOGICAL BULLETIN. P 18.
<7>Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946-50. RAF POST WAR COLLECTION. 106G:UK; 1431;5130-2,1946, .
<8>Scheduling Record: HBMC. 1969. AM 7. SAM 188.
<9>Scheduling Record: HBMC. 1978. AM 7. SAM 188.
<10>Correspondence: 1960. PARISH FILE. SEMPRINGHAM. -.
<11>Index: SMR FILE. POINTON AND SEMPRINGHAM. TF 13 SW:L,1929, PHILLIPS, C.W..
<12>Artefact: City and County Museum Collection. ACC NO 191.77.
<13>Article in Serial: Rogers, Byron. 1999. The Once and Future Princess. pp.52-54.
<14>Article in Serial: Coppack, Glyn and Cope-Faulkner, Paul. 2007. 'Fieldwork and monasticism: field survey at Sempringham Priory, Lincolnshire' in The Archaeologist Spring 2007. no. 63 pp 14-16.

Related records

32901Related to: CROPMARKS (Monument)
32895Related to: MEDIEVAL POTTERY AND OTHER ARTEFACTS FOUND, SEMPRINGHAM PRIORY (Monument)
33325Related to: POST MEDIEVAL FINDS, WEST OF ABBEY SITE, POINTON AND SEMPRINGHAM (Monument)
30040Related to: Sempringham Hall, Sempringham Priory (Monument)