Houses of Cistercian nuns: The priory of Fosse

A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1906.

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, 'Houses of Cistercian nuns: The priory of Fosse', in A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2, (London, 1906) pp. 157. British History Online [accessed 26 May 2024].

. "Houses of Cistercian nuns: The priory of Fosse", in A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2, (London, 1906) 157. British History Online, accessed May 26, 2024,

. "Houses of Cistercian nuns: The priory of Fosse", A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2, (London, 1906). 157. British History Online. Web. 26 May 2024,

In this section


The priory of Fosse, now in Torksey, appears to have been founded by the men of Torksey before the reign of John. (fn. 1) It was always a small and poor house. The nuns were never assessed for any tenths or subsidies until 1341: and when an attempt was made to tax their wool in that year, they received a special exemption from the king, on the ground that their endowment was so slender that they could not maintain themselves without the alms of the faithful. (fn. 2)

In 1297 a commission was issued by Bishop Sutton for the visitation of the priory, ' certain things having come to the bishop's ears ' concerning the nuns. (fn. 3) He probably found nothing amiss but poverty, for an indulgence was granted three years after. (fn. 4) In 1440 Bishop Alnwick found a prioress and five nuns here. They all answered omnia bene: there was no complaint of anything but the difficulty of getting the house repaired. One of the nuns mentioned the fact that they had always had a struggle with poverty; she and her sisters had nothing from the house but board and lodging: as at Gokewell, they were probably dependent on their friends for some allowance for clothing. It is noteworthy, however, that none complained of any personal discomfort, or of the quality of the food, which must have been poor indeed. (fn. 5)

When Dr. London took the surrender of the priory on 11 July, 1539, he found eight nuns still living there on an income of £8 a year. He might well call it ' a beggarly poor house.' (fn. 6)

It may be said that it was left so long standing simply because the Royal Commissioners had so little to gain by suppressing it: but on the other hand, if the ladies had found their religious life and their poverty so very irksome, they might have surrendered earlier of their own accord. This house is classed by Dr. London with Irford, Nuncotham, and Heynings as one of those where the nuns had been living in imperfect chastity: (fn. 7) but the statement is too vague and general to be worth much. The prioress received a pension of 1331. 4 d, and the others 161. 8d. each. (fn. 8) Five were still drawing these little pensions in 1553, (fn. 9) and remained unmarried. (fn. 10)

The original endowment of the priory consisted of about 120 acres in Torksey, (fn. 11) with a few small rents and the church of South Kelsey. (fn. 12) In 1303 and 1346 the nuns held one-sixteenth of a knight's fee in Bassingham. (fn. 13) The revenue of the house in 1534 was £7 3s. 6d. clear, including the church of Cherry Willingham. (fn. 14) The Ministers' Accounts amount to £15 15s. 7d. (fn. 15)

Prioresses Of Fosse

Beatrice, (fn. 16) occurs 1226

Agnes of Scothorn, (fn. 17) died 1312

Joan of Kettlesthorpe, (fn. 18) elected 1312, died 1349

Beatrice of Ludington, (fn. 19) elected 1349, died 1380

Agnes of Grantham, (fn. 20) elected 1380

Alice Radnor, (fn. 21) resigned 1410

Margaret Barnby, (fn. 22) elected 1410

Margery Redynges, (fn. 23) occurs 1440

Elizabeth Kirkby, (fn. 24) died 1498

Joan Watson, (fn. 25) elected 1498

Agnes Marr, (fn. 26) last prioress

The fifteenth-century seal (fn. 27) is pointed oval, representing the Virgin, seated in a [canopied] niche with tabernacle work at the sides, with crown, the Child standing on the right knee. In base under a round-headed arch St. Nicholas, three-quarter length, with mitre and pastoral staff, praying.

..... DOMUS — BEATE — MARIE — ET — SBI — NICHOLAI — DE — F . . . . .


  • 1. Dugdale, Mon. iv, 292.
  • 2. Close, 15 Edw. III, pt. in, m. 13.
  • 3. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. Sutton, 170.
  • 4. Ibid. Memo. Dalderby, 21.
  • 5. Visitations of Alnwick (Alnwick Tower), fol. 18.
  • 6. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), 1321.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. Aug. Off. Misc. Book, 245, fol. 23.
  • 9. Add. MS. 8102.
  • 10. Exch. Mins. Accts. bdle. 76, No. 26.
  • 11. Dugdale, Mon. iv, 292; and vi, 425.
  • 12. Pat. 12 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 23. But apparently the nuns never presented to a church in Kelsey.
  • 13. Feud. Aids, iii, 168, 212.
  • 14. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 132.
  • 15. Dugdale, Mon. iv, 292.
  • 16. Close Rolls (Reel Com.).
  • 17. Linc Epis. Reg. Inst. Dalderby, 95.
  • 18. Ibid.
  • 19. Ibid. Inst. Gynwell, 109.
  • 20. Ibid. Inst. Bokyngham, 146.
  • 21. Ibid. Inst. Repingdon, 119 d.
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. Visitations of Alnwick (Alnwick Tower), fol. 18. The order of the house is given here as Cistercian.
  • 24. Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Smith, 163. The house is again called Cistercian.
  • 25. Ibid.
  • 26. L. and P. Hen. VIII (1), 1250.
  • 27. B.M. Seals, lxvi, 97.