A History of the County of Nottingham: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1910.
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HOUSE OF PREMONSTRATENSIAN CANONESSES
12. THE PRIORY OF BROADHOLME
There were but two convents of canonesses of the Premonstratensian Order in England, namely at Broadholme, Nottinghamshire, and Ilford, Lincolnshire.
There is some uncertainty as to the date of the foundation of the small house of Broadholme on the borders of Lincolnshire, and as to the name or names of the original founders. It was an early offshoot of the Premonstratensian house of Newhouse (Lincolnshire). It appears, strange to say, to have been originally a house for both sexes, for the first benefaction named in a long inspection charter of Edward II, subsequently cited, was made to God and St. Mary and to the brethren and sisters of Broadholme—an expression which is repeated in other early grants. Leland states that Agnes de Camville, wife of Peter Gousla (or Gousley), the founder of Newhouse, placed here a prioress and nuns of the Premonstratensian Order about the latter part of the reign of King Stephen. (fn. 1)
When the Taxation Roll of Pope Nicholas was drawn up in 1291, it was found that the Prioress of Broadholme held a variety of small temporalities in Lincolnshire to the annual value of £4 13s.; and that in Nottinghamshire the appropriated church of Thorney (in which parish the house was situated) brought in an additional income of £8. (fn. 2)
A charter of inspection and confirmation granted to the priory of Broadholme by Edward II in 1318 gives a summary of the benefactions up to that date. (fn. 3) The principal of these were:— An orchard by the cemetery of the church of St. Botolph, Saxilby (fn. 4) (Lincolnshire), by Ralph D'Aubeney; a large amount of land, meadow, pasture, and tenements in Saxilby, on the south side of the Fosse Dyke, by Peter and Agnes Goushill and their children and others; lands in Ingleby (adjoining Saxilby), by Geoffrey de Crosby; rents in Skellingthorpe (Lincolnshire), by Baldwin Wake; the church of St. Helen, Thorney, with lands and the site of a mill, by Walter and Agnes de Clifford; rents in Newark and two quarters of corn from the manor of Wigsley, by Hugh de Basset; a toft in Fillingham, Lincolnshire, by William Wynok; rents at Broadholme, by William Newbrid; lands and rents in the parish of Sir Edward Wigford (Lincoln), by Aubrea and Ivo, children of Ralph son of Lambert; rents at Collingham, by Ralph de Muscamp and Isabel daughter of Alured de Collingham; lands in North Collingham, by Richard de Claypole; lands in Torksey (Lincolnshire), by Walter Faber; rents in Stow (Lincolnshire), by Peter de Campania; and lands, pastures, meadows, and rents in Little Hale (Lincolnshire), by Simon de Hale.
A confirmation charter granted by the king in the following year conjointly to the abbey of Newhouse and the priory of Broadholme is evidence of the close early alliance between these two houses, and also makes mention several times of the 'brethren and sisters of St. Mary's, Brodholme' in the earlier grants. (fn. 5) But such a title as this does not appear to have long prevailed, and was clearly out of date when this confirmation charter was issued. In the very next year (1320) a licence appears on the Patent Roll for the 'prioress and nuns of Brodholme' to acquire in mortmain lands, tenements, and rents to the value of £10 a year. (fn. 6)
In 1326 Matthew Brown, escheator for the counties of Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, and Rutland, was ordered by the Crown not to intermeddle further with a toft and 20 acres of land of the prioress (Matilda) of Broadholme in Saxilby, which had been mistakenly taken by the escheator into the king's hands, on the death of Margaret Warrok, who was the priory's tenant for those lands. (fn. 7)
Queen Isabel was a particular patroness of the nuns of Broadholme. In February 1327, 'for the special affection which she bore to them,' the queen granted the prioress and nuns a yearly rent of 8 marks out of certain lands in Great Massingham, Norfolk, whereof one moiety was to be applied for clothing, 2 marks for their pittance, and the remaining 2 marks for the repair of their buildings. (fn. 8) In October of that year the priory, at the request of Queen Isabel, obtained licence to acquire in mortmain land and rent, not held in chief, to the yearly value of £10. (fn. 9)
Two years later a mandate was issued to the sheriff of Norfolk to aid the prioress and nuns in recovering the rent of 8 marks granted them in 1327 out of Great Massingham. (fn. 10)
The advowson or patronage of Broadholme, which simply implied a formal approval of the appointment of the elected prioress, usually went with the manor of Saxilby. William Cressy of Markham settled that manor with the advowson of Broadholme, in 1365, on James son of Sir John de Lysers and Maud his wife; it afterwards frequently changed hands for lack of heirs male. (fn. 11)
A papal confirmation of a former ordinance of the chapter-general of Prémontré, granted by Alexander V in 1409 at the petition of the Prioress and Convent of St. Mary's, Broadholme, is of much interest in connexion with the somewhat meagre history of this house. The ordinance hereby confirmed was passed in 1354, when Joan de Rield was prioress. Out of consideration for Queen Isabel, and by the mediation of a number of abbots of the order, and particularly of Alan, then Abbot of Newhouse, the father abbot of the priory, it was ordained, in the presence of the Abbots of Barling, Langdon, Croston, and Welbeck, and of Sirs Richard Gray, John Lysyers, John Pigot, and John Everingham, knights, that (1) on voidance of the priory of Broadholme the Abbot of Newhouse should repair there in person, or send a fit member of the order, to investigate in the chapter-house the wishes of each sister under oath, and should appoint as prioress her on whom falls the consent of all or the greater part; (2) that all the money arising from the fruits, &c., of the priory, together with the common seal and muniments, should be kept in a chest fitted with two keys of different make, one to be kept by the prioress and the other by the sister whom the others shall choose; that (3) in order to avoid the impoverishment of the priory only one canon of Newhouse should dwell there, to say daily mass for the sisters and to overlook their temporalities, but he is not to presume to dispose of aught thereof against the will of the prioress; that (4) the prioress should have temporal jurisdiction over all her servants, appointing and removing them at pleasure; that (5) in the event of paucity of sisters, she may, with the counsel and leave of the abbot, admit others; and that (6) the father abbot should have right to hear or cause to be heard four times a year, without expense to the priory, the confessions of the prioress and sisters, and should also visit them for two days once a year, with four or five carriages, and stay at their expense. (fn. 12)
Among the Premonstratensian records is the fragment of a visitation of Broadholme, probably of the year 1478, from which it appears that all the nuns, before reception, were to know how to sing and read. (fn. 13)
In a list of the names of the order in the English province, drawn up in 1494, nine canonesses are entered as on the roll of Broadholme, namely:—
Dame Elizabeth Brerworth, priorissa
" Johanna Stertone, suppriorissa
" Johanna Uptone
" Agnes Aschby
Dame Elizabeth Formane
" Johanna Newsome
" Johanna Roos
" Johanna Steyntone
" Margery Robynsone (fn. 14)
The Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1534 gives the gross annnal value of this small priory as £18 11s. 10d. Rents at various places in the counties of Nottingham and Lincoln, together with 80 acres of demesne lands, only brought in £16 11s. 10d., whilst the value of the great tithes of Thorney had dropped to 40s. The clear annual value was but £16 5s. 2d.
On 12 December 1536 Joan Aungewen (or Angevin), the last prioress, was assigned a pension of 7 marks. (fn. 15)
The site was granted by the Crown in 1537 to Ralph Jackson. (fn. 16)
Prioresses of Broadholme
Matilda, occurs 1326 (fn. 17)
Joan de Rield, occurs 1354 (fn. 18)
Elizabeth de Brerworth, occurs 1496 (fn. 19)
Joan Aungewen, occurs 1534 and 1536 (fn. 20)