Houses of Cistercian nuns: The priory of Gokewell

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Houses of Cistercian nuns: The priory of Gokewell', in A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2, (London, 1906) pp. 156-157. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

In this section


The small priory of Gokewell now in Broughton was founded by William de Alta Ripa during the reign of Henry II; (fn. 1) and received other benefactions from Roger of St. Martin, Adam Paynel, and William de Romara. (fn. 2) The revenue of the house was probably never more than sufficient for ten or twelve nuns: in 1440 there were eight, and at the dissolution seven. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries there was a master or warden appointed to take charge of the temporalities, as in other small nunneries: and even in the fifteenth century a secular priest acted as their steward.

In 1302 Bishop Dalderby excommunicated certain persons who laid violent hands on the goods of this monastery. (fn. 3) No regular visitation is recorded before that of Bishop Alnwick in 1440. He found the house very poor, but in good order. The prioress told him that the nuns had but two ' households,' in which they took turns to entertain their friends. The revenues of the house only amounted to £10 a year, and were not sufficient to supply the sisters with anything but their food; their clothing was probably paid for by their relations. No dowry was exacted at the reception of a nun; the prioress only accepted what their friends willingly offered. No girls over ten or boys over eight were admitted to the convent school. The house was much in debt to the rector of Flixborough, who was its steward.

The other sisters answered omnia bene: one, however, remarked that the prioress was multum simplex and remiss in correction, and that the younger nuns paid little heed to her. (fn. 4)

In 1519 Bishop Atwater visited, but made no corrections: there were then eight nuns in the priory. (fn. 5) It was dissolved before Michaelmas, 1536, the prioress receiving an annual pension of £4, and the nuns 20s. each for apparel: a lay sister only received 135. 4 d. (fn. 6) The prioress was still living in 1553. (fn. 7)

The endowment of the priory consisted only of some small parcels of land in the neighbourhood. (fn. 8) The revenue in 1440 was said to be only £10. (fn. 9) In 1534 it was only £16 12s. 10d. (fn. 10) The Ministers' Accounts amount to £20 1s. 4d. (fn. 11)

Prioresses Of Gokewell

Avice, (fn. 12) occurs 1234

Isabel of Thornton, (fn. 13) died 1300

Maud of Saperton, (fn. 14) elected 1300

Maud of Newode, (fn. 15) resigned 1343

Elizabeth Dan try, (fn. 16) elected 1348

Alice of Layfield, (fn. 17) resigned 1375

Alice of Egermorton, (fn. 18) elected 1375

Joan Thorp, (fn. 19) occurs 1440

Sibyl Thorney, (fn. 20) occurs 1519

Anne Castleford, (fn. 21) last prioress, occurs 1536


  • 1. Cal of Chart. R, i, 476, refers to a confirmation charter of Hen. II, and the name of William de Romara points to a date early in the reign.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. Dalderby, 54 d.
  • 4. Visitations of Alnwick (Alnwick Tower), fol. 86.
  • 5. Ibid. 45 b.
  • 6. Mins. Accts. (27-28 Hen. VIII), No. 166.
  • 7. Add. MS. 8102 (Pension List).
  • 8. Cal of Chart. R. i, 476.
  • 9. Visitations of Alnwick (Alnwick Tower), fol. 86.
  • 10. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 140.
  • 11. Dugdale, Mon. v, 721.
  • 12. Boyd and Massingberd, Abstracts of Final Concords, ii, 257.
  • 13. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. Sutton, 183. She resigned in 1297, but was restored till her death in 1300.
  • 14. Ibid. Inst. Dalderby, 83.
  • 15. Ibid. Inst. Gynwell, 106.
  • 16. Ibid. She was provided by the bishop.
  • 17. Ibid. Inst. Bokyngham, 130.
  • 18. Ibid.
  • 19. Visitations of Alnwick (Alnwick Tower), fol. 86. The prior is clearly called ' Cistercian' at this visitation.
  • 20. Visitations of Atwater (Alnwick Tower), fol. 45 d
  • 21. Mins. Accts. (27-28 Hen. VIII), No. 166.