House of Benedictine nuns: The priory of Wallingwells

A History of the County of Nottingham: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1910.

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


'House of Benedictine nuns: The priory of Wallingwells', A History of the County of Nottingham: Volume 2, (London, 1910), pp. 89-90. British History Online [accessed 24 June 2024].

. "House of Benedictine nuns: The priory of Wallingwells", in A History of the County of Nottingham: Volume 2, (London, 1910) 89-90. British History Online, accessed June 24, 2024,

. "House of Benedictine nuns: The priory of Wallingwells", A History of the County of Nottingham: Volume 2, (London, 1910). 89-90. British History Online. Web. 24 June 2024,

In this section



Ralph de Chevrolcourt (or Caprecuria) in the time of Stephen granted, with the consent of his heirs, to Almighty God and the Blessed Virgin a place in his park of Carlton in Lindrick by the Wells (juxta fontes et rivum fontium), whose name was to be St. Mary of the Park, to make and build there a dwelling for religious, independent of any other house, in honour of the Blessed Virgin, for the remission of his sins and for the good estate and the soul's health of himself and his heirs and progenitors and of all who should help and maintain the house. By way of endowment the founder granted the house, the water for mill use, pasture in the park for all their beasts, pannage in the same for ninety swine, a right of way through the midst of the park for carting their crops, all the lands held of his fee by Gunwat, Thori, William son of Lefwin, Rushtoch and Ernwi, with various other small plots, common rights in the field of Carlton, common of pasture on all his demesnes, and the whole underwood (arbustum) of Sicam to inclose. The charter concludes with an unusually solemn blessing upon his heirs who should cherish and maintain his gifts to this house, and a malediction on all who should attempt to disturb, diminish, or straiten the benefactions. (fn. 1)

The church of Cantley, Yorkshire, was appropriated to the nuns of Wallingwells in 1273. Archbishop Giffard gave his assent, on account of their penury, in terms of warm eulogy as to their devout life. The appropriation was to come into operation on the death or resignation of John Clarell, the then rector, and meanwhile the rector was to assign to the priory the yearly pension of a mark. (fn. 2)

At the end of Giffard's register, the ordinance of Archbishop Godfrey, in 1262, concerning certain rights of this nunnery in the churches of Carlton in Lindrick, Cantley, and Mattersey is cited. On account of their great poverty, the archbishop, with the express consent of Warin de Dyson, rector of Carlton, assigned to them the corn tithes of eighteen bovates of land in that parish, and the nuns were to be held clear of all tithes, small and great, on their lands in Carlton. Moreover the rector of Carlton was to sustain all burdens of the church, save the extraordinary ones of a fourth part. The advowsons of the rectory of Carlton (saving this fourth part) and of the rectory of Cantley were reserved to the Archbishop of York, but a pension was to be paid of 20s. out of Carlton rectory and of two marks out of Cantley rectory to the prioress and nuns of Wallingwells. It was at the same time agreed that the presentation to the rectory of Mattersey was reserved to the priory. (fn. 3)

The Taxation Roll of 1291 enters that the prioress held in spiritualities in Carlton in Lindrick £10 13s. 4d., and in temporalities £4 18s. 4d.; also £2 13s. 4d. in temporalities at Handsworth Woodhouses. (fn. 4)

The Valor Ecclesiasticus of Henry VIII gives the total annual value of the house as £87 11s. 6d., but heavy reprises reduced the clear annual value to £58 9s. 10d. The demesne lands produced £6 a year, and other Nottinghamshire lands in Carlton, Gildingwells, Gringley, 'Willourne,' together with Yorkshire lands in Handsworth and its members, brought the total of the temporalities to £21 11s. 10d. Campsall rectory (Yorks) produced the large annual income of £51 14s.; Cantley rectory and a pension out of Carlton rectory brought the total of the spiritualities to £65 19s. 8d. The chief outgoing was from Campsall rectory, which included £16 13s. 4d. to the vicar as his pension, £1 6s. 8d. to the deacon of the same church, £5 to a chantry priest in Pontefract Castle, £1 to the Archbishop of York, and 10s. to the York chapter. There was also a distribution of alms to the poor four times a year, amounting to £2 6s. 8d., in commemoration of the founder. (fn. 5)

The Prioress of Wallingwells took action in 1247 against Thomas de Lyncoln and Juliana his wife for obstructing a certain highway in Carlton, so that she could not use it for her carts to the granges; but the action failed, as the jury found that the priory never had any right of way, and only used it on sufferance. (fn. 6)

In November 1295 Archbishop Romayne appointed Lady Emma de Stocwelle prioress of Wallingwells, and issued his mandate to the archdeacon to induct her. A memorandum in the register states that the diocesan appointed in this manner because there was no exhibition of the election in writing; but it would appear that Lady Emma was the choice of the nuns. (fn. 7)

Dame Isabel Crofte, Prioress of Wallingwells, by indenture dated 30 June 1507 covenanted with George Hastings to farm to him all manner of tithes of the town and manor of Fenwick pertaining to the priory and including tithes of corn, hay, hemp, flax, goosegrass, wool and lambs, together with mortuaries and oblations, and all other profits, for the term of both their lives, at £3 a year. It was also agreed and provided that the township of Fenwick was to make due oblation unto the mother church of Campsall at the four principal feasts, and further covenanted that the inhabitants 'shall well and trulye content and paye the Lenton bokes and the profetts thereof unto the saide Dame Isabell prioresse, or ellus unto hir deputs.' (fn. 8)

This small nunnery was visited in 1536 by Legh and Layton. Wonderful to relate, they had no slander nor scandal to report of this house, whose annual value they returned at £60. Under the head of Superstitio they recorded the comb of St. Edmund, and an image of the Virgin said to have been discovered at the founding of the house. (fn. 9)

In April of this year Sir John Nevill, in a letter to Cromwell, wrote:—'I beseech you have me in remembrance for Wallyng Wellys, as I wrote to Mr. Richard, your nephew or for something else.' (fn. 10)

Wallingwells, however, though so small a house, was one of those religious foundations which managed to procure a respite by a heavy bribe or fine. More than a year's income, namely £66 13s. 4d., was paid to the Crown officials to secure exemption from the schedule of the condemned smaller monasteries. (fn. 11)

On 2 June 1537 Margaret Goldsmith, the prioress of the 'Monasterye of ower Ladye of Wallyngwells, in the countye of Nottingham,' entered into a covenant with Richard Oglethorp demising to him the entire monastery and all its possessions for the term of twenty-one years, lying in Wallingwells, Carlton in Lindrick, Gildingwells, Handsworth, Brinsworth, Todwick, Wales, Throapham, Dalton, Rawmarsh, Gringley, Woodsetts, Harthill, 'Rownbromen,' Welham, and Mattersey, in the counties of York and Nottingham, together with the parsonage of Campsall. The actual church of Wallingwells, and the prioress's chambers, the dormitory, the infirmary, and all other houses and dwellings pertaining to the monastery, were alone excepted, and these were reserved for the prioress and convent. Oglethorp, or his executors or assigns, was also to be entitled to cut down and carry away all timber and underwood. He was, however, to provide at his own cost an able priest to sing and read in the monastery, and to pay yearly during the terms of the lease £3 6s. 8d. to the prioress, 6s. 8d. to every lady or sister of the monastery there abiding, 11s. to the prioress's maid for her wages, to the convent maid 6s. 8d., and to the cook and butler yearly for their wages £1 6s. 8d. Further he was to supply to the convent every week 'one mett of whete and one mete and one pek of rye for ther brede corn, to be grounde molter free,' and three bushels of blended malt, half barley and half oats, for the 'dryncke corn.' He was also to deliver yearly six fat kine, four fat pigs, six calves, twenty sheep, six stone of cheese, a quarter and a half of salt, and a quarter of oatmeal for the kitchen, and 40s. in money for them to buy fish with at their pleasure. The final clause of the indenture bound Oglethorp to supply the prioress yearly with one load of coals, ten loads of wood, and twelve pounds of candles; and twelve loads of coal, twenty loads of wood, and twelve pounds of candles for the convent; and also to find them, summer and winter, two milk kine and two 'suez.' (fn. 12)

The priory was surrendered on 14 December 1539, when a pension of £6 was assigned to Margaret Goldsmith the prioress, of 53s. 4d. each to Anne Roden the sub-prioress and to Elizabeth Kyrkeby, and of 40s. each to six other nuns. (fn. 13)

Prioresses of Wallingwells

Emma de Stockwell, 1295 (fn. 14)

Dionysia, resigned 1325 (fn. 15)

Alice de Sheffield, resigned 1353 (fn. 16)

Helen de Bolsover, resigned 1402 (fn. 17)

Isabel de Durham, 1402 (fn. 18)

Joan Hewet, died 1465 (fn. 19)

Elizabeth Wilcocks, 1465 (fn. 20)

Elizabeth Kirkby, 1504 (fn. 21)

Isabel Croft, 1508-11 (fn. 22)

Anne Goldsmith, 1516 (fn. 23)

Margaret Goldsmith, 1521 (fn. 24)


  • 1. Thoroton, Notts. iii, 408.
  • 2. York Epis. Reg. Giffard, fol. 17.
  • 3. Ibid. fol. 145 d.
  • 4. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.).
  • 5. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v, 179.
  • 6. Thoroton, Notts. iii, 410.
  • 7. York Epis. Reg. Romanus, fol. 85.
  • 8. Dugdale, Mon. iv, 297.
  • 9. L. and P. Hen. VIII. x, 364.
  • 10. Ibid. 633.
  • 11. Ibid. xiii (2), 451.
  • 12. Dugdale, Mon. iv, 298–9.
  • 13. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (2), 651.
  • 14. Harl. MS. 6972, fol. 5b.
  • 15. Ibid. fol. 16.
  • 16. Ibid. fol. 19b.
  • 17. Ibid. 6969, fol. 88.
  • 18. Ibid.
  • 19. Ibid. 6972, fol. 33b.
  • 20. Ibid.
  • 21. Ibid. fol. 43.
  • 22. Ibid. fol. 43b, 44.
  • 23. Ibid. fol. 45.
  • 24. Ibid. fol. 46.