Houses of Benedictine monks: The priory of Lynn

Pages 328-329

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

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


In this section


Bishop Herbert of Norwich, about the year 1100, founded the noble parish church of St. Margaret's, Lynn, and attached to it a priory of monks, dedicating the house in honour of St. Mary Magdalen, St. Margaret, and all virgin saints. He richly endowed it with churches, lands, rents, and men, and granted the priory a market on Saturdays, and a fair at the feast of St. Margaret; but he made the priory of Lynn and all its possessions subordinate to the great diocesan priory of the Holy Trinity, Norwich.

The prior of Lynn, though an important person in the local affairs of Lynn, was appointed solely by the prior and convent of Norwich and was removable at pleasure. He was responsible to Norwich for all rents and profits that he received, so that all donations and grants to the priory of Lynn were practically made to Norwich and need not be recapitulated in this brief outline sketch.

The taxation of 1291 gives the annual value of the temporalities as £8 0s. 4d. In the Valor of 1535 this cell was valued under Norwich Priory; the spiritualities were returned at £11 8s. 11d. and the temporalities at £14 0s. 6½d.

A roll of accounts from Michaelmas, 1438, to Michaelmas, 1439, delivered to the prior of Norwich, shows that the receipts in that year amounted to £190 7s. 1¼d., whilst the expenditure was £196 8s. But the receipts fell off materially towards the close of its existence. The account roll of Prior Edmund Norwich for 1535-6 shows that the receipts were then only £78 5s. 8d. The oblations in St. Margaret's Church, which had amounted to £44 a hundred years earlier, then only reached the sum of £14 5s. 4d. Not only did the pension due to the prior of Norwich remain unpaid, but the cell of Lynn was clearly a considerable burden to the mother priory, for its expenses for that year amounted to £115 11s. 3½d.

Legh and Ap Rice, Cromwell's visitors, were here towards the end of 1535; they reported that all of the house save two desired to be dispensed; two of the number are supposed to have confessed incontinency to the visitors. (fn. 2)

This priory at the dissolution became part of the endowment of the dean and chapter of Norwich, and Prior Drake was made prebend of the fourth stall.

Among the account rolls in the treasury of Norwich Cathedral are annual returns from the priory cell of Lynn for 1331, 1371, 1373,1381 to 1407, and a fair number from Henry VI to the dissolution. Invalid monks or those needing change were sent from time to time, both to this cell and to that of Yarmouth, for a summer outing. The roll for 1407 contains a charge of 51s. 10½d. for a conveyance of monks (in cariagio monachorum) with gifts given them.

George Elingham, prior of Lynn, attended the episcopal visitation of Norwich Priory in 1514. He was examined as to the state of the mother house, but naturally said he knew but little as he was so seldom present. (fn. 3)

Priors of Lynn (fn. 4)

William, c. 1200

Adam de Schipdam, c. 1280

John de Bromholm, 1309

John de Stratton, 1325

William Ralflede Markham, 1378

Alexander, 1381

John de Carleton and Walter Ormesby, 1397

Richard de Folsham, 1398

John Elys, 1483

John de Dereham, 1483

Thomas Heveringham, 1487

John Fornsett, 1487

Nicholas Bardney, 1489

George Elingham, 1509

Edmund Norwich, 1535


  • 1. Blomefield, viii, 494-500; Dugdale, Mon. vi, 462-3; Taylor, Index Monasticus, 5; Beloe, Our Borough, Our Churches (1899), passim.
  • 2. L. and P. Hen. VIII, x, 364.
  • 3. Jessopp, Norw. Visit. 73.
  • 4. Blomefield, Hist, of Norf.