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.
53. THE PRIORY OF ST. SAVIOUR, BRIDGEND IN HORBLING
The Gilbertine priory of St. Saviour, Bridgend, was founded in or before 1199 by Godwin the Rich of Lincoln. (fn. 1) As early as 1177 he became a benefactor to Sempringham, and was received by St. Gilbert into full fraternity. (fn. 2) At Bridgend he gave the chapel of St. Saviour and certain lands and tenements for the maintenance of a house for canons, and bound them, after providing for their own support, to keep in repair the causeway through the fens called Holland Bridge and the bridges over it as far as the new dike near Donington. (fn. 3)
The history of the house is largely a record of disputes about the causeway. From the middle of the thirteenth century the canons found that its repair was a heavy burden, and on the evidence of numerous complaints against them they appear to have ignored their obligations. In 1263 the jurors before the king's justices stated that the canons had obtained a papal bull authorizing them to collect money for the causeway. (fn. 4) With the proceeds and other legacies they used to repair it. Twenty years before it was damaged in a great flood, and since then the canons had spent their money on buying land. The jurors contended that with their revenues the canons might very well repair the causeway. In 1275 it was declared that the lands at the prior's disposal for that purpose were worth 10 marks a year. He took tolls to the amount of 5, and yet did nothing. (fn. 5) In 1295 the lands at Bridgend were valued by the jurors at 20. (fn. 6) It is difficult to reconcile their statements with other valuations. The original endowment was very small; in 1254 the temporalities were assessed at 10 4s. 2d., (fn. 7) and in 1290 only at 5 8s. 6d. (fn. 8) The canons had scarcely any wool to sell to add to their income. (fn. 9) In 1307 Edward I granted the right of taking tolls for seven years in aid of the repairs to the causeway, (fn. 10) and the grants were regularly renewed by the crown. (fn. 11) However, ten bridges were out of repair in 1325, (fn. 12) and in 1331 the people of Kesteven and Holland petitioned the Parliament that auditors might be assigned to the prior who took the tolls and did nothing to the bridges. (fn. 13) The petition was granted. In 1333 the prior appeared before the Parliament at York and showed that the property barely sufficed for the maintenance of the canons, and the repair of the causeway was only a secondary charge upon his house. (fn. 14) In 1366 Bokyngham bishop of Lincoln granted an indulgence for the repair of Holland Bridge, (fn. 15) and in 1379 Richard II granted a licence to the prior to beg for seven years throughout England for that purpose. (fn. 16) In a grant of pontage by Henry IV the supervision of the repairs was taken from the prior. (fn. 17)
Bridgend probably suffered from its nearness to Sempringham, as benefactors were naturally attracted to the mother-house of the order. It is unlikely that there were ever more than three or four canons and a few lay brothers at this priory. After the Black Death the house was doubtless in great poverty. In 1356 Edward III granted the right of holding a weekly market in Bridgend and of a yearly fair on the Feast of St. Mary Magdalen. (fn. 18) In 1357 he extended the fair to the morrow of the feast and granted another fair on the feast and morrow of St. Luke. (fn. 19)
In or before February, 1445, a serious fire devastated the church and monastic buildings, and Alnwick bishop of Lincoln issued an indulgence of forty days to all who should contri bute before Michaelmas to the relief of the priory. (fn. 20)
At the dissolution the house had become a cell of Sempringham, and was surrendered as part of the possessions of that priory on 18 September, 1538. (fn. 21) The prior received a pension of 3 6s. 8d. (fn. 22)
Priors of Bridgend
John Eveden, occurs 1445 (fn. 25)
Christopher Cartwright, occurs 1535 (fn. 26)
William Style, alias Skelton, occurs 1538 (fn. 27)
No seal of this priory exists.