Sempringham Priory

Sempringham Priory survived until 1538 when it was dissolved by Henry VIII.

The estate was purchased by the Clinton family, the monastic buildings pulled down, and a large Tudor house erected. This grand house eventually fell into decay and it too has disappeared, leaving only earthworks.

The only tangible reminders of the important priory and the Gilbertines are the parish church where the priory had its roots, and a holy well.

There was a Saxon church at Sempringham, in the marshy fens.

Around 1100 Jocelin of Sempringham replaced that Saxon building with a new church dedicated to St Andrew. Jocelin had a son named Gilbert.

Gilbert of Sempringham was trained as a clerk in France. He entered the household of the Bishop of Lincoln, and in 1129 was appointed Vicar of Sempringham and West Torrington by the Bishop.

In 1131 Gilbert built a simple range of buildings against the north wall of the church, with accommodation for seven local women, who vowed to live a life of charity, obedience, chastity, and humility.

This was the beginning of the Gilbertine Order, the only completely British monastic order during the Middle Ages. The original monastic buildings proved inadequate, and in 1139 Gilbert received a grant of land from Gilbert de Gant (Ghent) to erect a new priory about 350 yards away to the south west.

Sempringham Priory was a double house, with provision for both men and women (though the genders were segregated) and grew to provide a home for 200 nuns and 40 canons.

Gilbert became friends with Henry II and the Gilbertine Order were granted royal protection.

via Sempringham Priory, Church and Holy Well | Historic Lincolnshire Guide.

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