Bourne Abbey

Bourne Abbey

Bourne Abbey is the name of the parish church in Bourne, Lincolnshire, England. The building remains in parochial use, despite the sixteenth century dissolution, as the nave was used by the parish, probably from the time of the foundation of the Abbey in 1138.

Monastic origins

While Domesday Book makes it clear that there was a church in Bourne in 1066 and there is a suggestion that there was an Anglo-Saxon abbey (see David Roffe's link below), as far as is firmly known, the abbey was founded as a monastic institution, by a charter granted in 1138, by Baldwin fitz Gilbert de Clare [ [] ; c.1102-1154; his father was Gilbert Fitz Richard.] (with the consent of Roger his son and Adelina his wife). He was a member of a post-conquest Norman family, settled in Suffolk, which was later, to make its mark in Wales and Ireland. Adelina was a great-granddaughter of Hereward "the Wake", though the connection with the Wake family was not made until the generation after Baldwin and Adelina, when their daughter, Emma married Hugh Wake. The house was for up to fourteen canons of the Arrouaisian reform of the Augustinian Rule. This was the height of the period of abbey foundation and castle-building, in England.

The foundation of the Abbey was part of a general restructuring of the estate so that the part of the town of Bourne which is now known as its centre was built as a new town at the entrance to Baldwin's new castle, between which and the abbey, the new main road passed. The pre-Norman road lies under the junction between the nave and the chancel. This proximity to the road may have influenced Baldwin's thinking when choosing an order for the new abbey. By this time, Arrouaise itself was moving away from being a hermitage towards providing a service for travellers.

In the late thirteenth century, the estate associated with Bourne Castle was reorganized so that the main road was moved onto what had been part of the site of the castle and a little away from the Abbey.

The Abbey was dissolved in 1536 along with the other small monastic houses, in the first phase of Henry VIII's suppression of monasteries.


The following is a chronological list of the abbots as far as they are known. It is based on that in Swift's book.
* Abbey charter 1138
# Gervaise of Arrouaise 1138
# David 1156
# Baldwin 1212
# Everard Gutt 1224
# William of Repton 1236
# Robert of Hamme 1248
# Robert of Haceby 1260
# William of Spalding 1275
# Nicholas 1287
# Alan of Waux 1292
# Thomas of Colsterworth 1295
# William of St Albans 1313
# William of Abbotsley 1314
# John of Wytheton 1324
# Simon Watton 1350
# Thomas of Grantham 1355
# Geffory of Deeping 1369
# William of Irnham 1440
# Henry (died) 1500
# Thomas Ford 1500
# William Grisby 1512
# John Small 1534
* Dissolution 1536
* Simon Watton (15) was excommunicated, though we do not know how he had offended.

Abbots of Bourne (Source: House Of Austin Canons Of The Arrouasian Reform, 41. The Abbey Of Bourne)

* David, occurs about 1156

* Baldwin, occurs 1212 to 1218

* Everard Gutt, occurs 1224, resigned 1237

* William of Ripton, elected 1237

* Robert de Hamme, 1248, died 1260

* Robert de Hasceby, elected 1260, resigned 1275

* William of Spalding, elected 1275

* Alan de Wauz, died 1292

* Thomas de Calstewith, elected 1292, died 1313

* William of St Albans, elected 1313, resigned 1314

* William of Abbotsley, elected 1314, died 1324

* John de Wytheton, elected 1324, died 1334

* Simon of Walton, elected 1334, died 1355

* Thomas of Grantham, elected 1355, died 1369

* Geoffrey of Deeping, elected 1369, occurs to 1406

* William Irnham, occurs 1440

* Henry, died 1500

* Thomas Fort, collated 1500

* William Grisby, died 1512

* John Small, last abbot, occurs 1534

Literary associations

The Ormulum, an important work in the form of a Biblical gloss, helps bridge the gap between Old English and Middle English in studies of the development of the language. It was probably written in Bourne Abbey by Orm the Preacher, in around 1175.

Robert Mannyng or Robert de Brunne, is well known among scholars of Middle English for his works dating from the early fourteenth century. He led the writing of English out of its eclipse by Latin and Anglo-Norman. He is often said to have been a monk in Bourne Abbey but he was a Gilbertine and the abbey was Arrouaisian or Augustinian. His name which associates him with 'Brunne', the form of 'Bourne' used in his time is likely to have arisen from his having originated in the town. Since the nave of the abbey was the parish church, Robert, the boy will have known it well until he left for Sempringham in 1288.


*Needle, Rex. "A Portrait of Bourne - the history of a Lincolnshire market town in words and pictures" (1998-2008, on CD-ROM, including 3,000 photographs from past and present and an illustrated account of the church including the current restoration programme)
*Swift, John T. "Bourne and People Associated with Bourne" (about 1925)


External links

* [ David Roffe's Bourne Abbey history]
* [ Rex Needle's Bourne Abbey history]
* [ Bourne Abbey on the British History Online site]
* [ Links to relevant documents]

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