Houses of Premonstratensian canons
The abbey of Tupholme


Victoria County History



William Page (editor)

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'Houses of Premonstratensian canons: The abbey of Tupholme', A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2 (1906), pp. 206-207. URL: Date accessed: 26 November 2014.


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The abbey of Tupholme was founded some time before 1190 by Gilbert de Neville and his brother Alan, in honour of the Annunciation; (fn. 1) Geoffrey the son of Alan was also a benefactor, (fn. 2) and Ralf de Neville in 1342 endowed the house with the manor of Ranby. (fn. 3) Henry earl of Lancaster granted the manor of Burreth in 1329. (fn. 4) Burreth had been held by the Nevilles, and later by William Tochet of the honor of Bolingbroke which the earl held. The abbey was not very wealthy, but it had sometimes as many as twenty-four canons during the fifteenth century. In 1347 it was heavily burdened with debt, (fn. 5) and it is probable that the abbot died in the great pestilence. (fn. 6)

Bishop Redman visited this house regularly from 1475 to 1503. In 1478 one canon was excommunicated as an apostate. (fn. 7) In 1482 another was found guilty of the same offence, but was pardoned, on his penitence, at the earnest intercession of the abbot and convent. A debt of £20 had been cleared off since the last visitation, and the house was well provisioned and had increased its numbers from eleven to sixteen. (fn. 8)

In 1488 there were as many as twenty-four canons, including novices. (fn. 9) In 1421 they were enjoined to wear their hoods outside their capes, and not to carry long knives. Leave to go without the cloister was not to be granted as freely as it had been. (fn. 10)

In 1494 the abbot was ill; but the proctor of Bishop Redman, who conducted the visitation, found nothing to correct. (fn. 11) In 1427 one canon was found guilty of fostering contentions among his brethren, and was ordered to recite the whole psalter as a penance. Another, guilty of incontinence, was condemned to forty days' penance gravioris culpae and a five years' banishment to another monastery. A third was guilty of disobedience and false charges against the abbot; he had forty days' penance gravioris culpae and ten years' banishment to Sulby. (fn. 12)

In 1501 Bishop Redman was well satisfied with the house, and his injunctions were merely formal. (fn. 13)

At the dissolution in 1536 the last abbot received a pension of £18; his eight canons the usual reward of 20s. (fn. 14)

The original endowment consisted of the demesne at Tupholme and other smaller parcels of land; with the churches of Burreth, Middle Rasen, Market Stainton, Ranby, and Sturton. (fn. 15) The temporalities of the abbey in 1291 were assessed at £29 9s. 4d. (fn. 16) In 1303 the abbot held only a fraction of a knight's fee in Ranby and Stainton. (fn. 17) In 1346 he had a quarter of a fee besides in Burreth, (fn. 18) and the same in 1428. (fn. 19) The clear revenue of the abbey in 1534 was £100 14s. 10d.; (fn. 20) the Minister's Accounts amount to £137 17s. 1d., including the manors of Middle Rasen, Ranby, Ashby near Horncastle, Brocklesby, and Gautby, and the rectories of Stainton, Ranby, Sturton, and Burreth. (fn. 21)

Abbots of Tupholme

Ivo, (fn. 22) occurs late in the twelfth century

Geoffrey, (fn. 23) occurs 1202 to 1230

Thomas, (fn. 24) occurs 1276 to 1289

Ralf, (fn. 25) elected 1293

William, (fn. 26) elected 1310, occurs 1316

Roger, (fn. 27) occurs about 1348

Simon of Lincoln, (fn. 28) elected 1349

John of Beseby, (fn. 29) elected 1373

William of Tynton, (fn. 30) elected 1383, occurs 1385

John Spalding, (fn. 31) died 1456

John Coventry, (fn. 32) elected 1456

John Ancaster, (fn. 33) occurs 1474

Thomas Sotby, (fn. 34) occurs 1488 to 1491

Thomas Gryme, (fn. 35) occurs 1494 to 1509

John Sword, (fn. 36) occurs 1522

John Ancaster, (fn. 37) last abbot, occurs 1529

The thirteenth-century pointed oval seal of Tupholme (fn. 38) represents the Virgin, with nimbus, seated on a throne, with carved fontals and footboards; on her left knee the Child with cruciform nimbus, lifting up His right hand in benediction, in the left hand a flower.

Legend on a bevelled edge—


The reverse is a smaller pointed oval counterseal, under a trefoiled arch with church-like canopy the Virgin, half-length, the Child, halflength, with nimbus, on the left arm. In base, under a carved and trefoiled arch with a pinnacle on each side, the abbot, kneeling, in profile to the left, with pastoral staff.


1 Dugdale, Mon. vi, 870. The date must be previous to 1190, for Gilbert de Neville died in that year.
2 Ibid.
3 Inq. a.q.d. File 216, No. 14.
4 Ibid. File 199, No. 92.
5 Cal. of Pap. Pet. i, 107.
6 There was a new abbot that year.
7 Ashmole MS. 1519, fol. 13-19.
8 Ibid. 29-45.
9 Ibid. 113.
10 Ibid. 95.
11 Ibid. 119d.-28.
12 Ashmole MS. 1519, fol. 135. The meaning of poena gravioris culpae has been explained under Newhouse, q. v.
13 Ibid.
14 Mins. Accts. 27 and 28 Hen. VIII, No. 166.
15 Dugdale, Mon. vi, 870.
16 Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 70.
17 Feud. Aids, iii, 139.
18 Ibid. 216, 219.
19 Ibid, 280, 298.
20 Valor Eccles. iv, 36.
21 Mins. Accts. 27 and 28 Hen. VIII, No, 91.
22 Lans. MS. 207 C, fol. 252. He was a contemporary of Geoffrey, son of Alan de Neville.
23 Boyd and Massingberd, Abstracts of Final Concords, 36, 124; Close, 14 Hen. III, m. 3d.
24 Harl. Chart. 45 A, 14; Close, 17 Edw. I, m. 8d.
25 Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. Sutton, 59.
26 Ibid. Memo. Dalderby, 153; Harl. Chart. 45 A, 19.
27 Harl. Chart. 45 A, 17.
28 Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Gynwell, 11.
29 Ibid. Memo. Bokyngham, 118 d.
30 Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Bokyngham, 125.
31 Ibid. Memo. Chedworth, 11 d. 33d.
32 Ibid.
33 Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. viii, 267; and Ashmole MS. 1519, fol. 5d.
34 Ashmole MS. 1519, fol. 113.
35 Ibid. 119d.; Harl. Chart. 45 A, 22.
36 Linc. N. and Q. v, 36.
37 L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv (3), 2698.
38 Harl. Chart. 45 A, 14.