Ancient Monuments

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Site of medieval nunnery, Broadholme

A Scheduled Monument in Broadholme, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.2514 / 53°15'5"N

Longitude: -0.6595 / 0°39'34"W

OS Eastings: 489536.24914

OS Northings: 373549.301829

OS Grid: SK895735

Mapcode National: GBR RZVV.05

Mapcode Global: WHGHX.VJ4R

Entry Name: Site of medieval nunnery, Broadholme

Scheduled Date: 21 January 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008670

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22601

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Broadholme

Built-Up Area: Saxilby

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Saxilby St Botolph

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the remains of the medieval nunnery of St Mary,
Broadholme, a priory of Premonstratensian canonesses founded before 1154 and
dissolved in 1536. It was the first of only two nunneries of the
Premonstratensian order to be established in England in the Middle Ages. The
remains of the nunnery include part of a raised platform and an area of
ridge-and-furrow with associated earthworks.
The platform, approximately 70m square, lies in the southwest part of the site
and is raised approximately 1m above the level of the surrounding land. It is
covered by a post-medieval farmhouse, garden, yard and drive, and has been cut
away on the west by post-medieval farm buildings and on the south by modern
ploughing. Finds made near the house include stone foundations, architectural
fragments and a stone coffin, indicating that the platform is the site of the
conventual church and associated domestic buildings. Architectural fragments
believed to have derived from the remains of the nunnery are built into the
Immediately east of the platform, and divided from it by a line of mature
hazels, is an area of orchard bounded on the north by an avenue of trees and
on the south and east by a fence. In this area human burials have been found,
aligned east-west, indicating the site of the conventual cemetery.
To the north of both the platform and the orchard lies an area of degraded
ridge-and-furrow approximately 40m x 10m wide and other earthworks associated
with the conventual precinct.
Excluded from the scheduling are the present farmhouse and all fences,
although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A nunnery was a settlement built to sustain a community of religious women.
Its main buildings were constructed to provide facilities for worship,
accommodation and subsistence. The main elements are the church and domestic
buildings arranged around a cloister. This central enclosure may be
accompanied by an outer court and gatehouse, the whole bounded by a precinct
wall, earthworks or moat. Outside the enclosure, fishponds, mills, field
systems, stock enclosures and barns may occur. The earliest English nunneries
were founded in the seventh century AD but most of these had fallen out of use
by the ninth century. A small number of these were later refounded. The tenth
century witnessed the foundation of some new houses but the majority of
medieval nunneries were established from the late 11th century onwards.
Nunneries were established by most of the major religious orders of the time,
including the Benedictines, Cistercians, Augustinians, Franciscans and
Dominicans. It is known from documentary sources that at least 153 nunneries
existed in England, of which the precise locations of only around 100 sites
are known. Few sites have been examined in detail and as a rare and poorly
understood medieval monument type all examples exhibiting survival of
archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

The site of the priory of St Mary, Broadholme, is particularly rare in being
one of only two Premonstratensian nunneries to be founded in England. The
site as never been excavated archaeologically, and post-medieval activity on
the site has been of limited impact. Finds of architectural fragments and
other remains indicate a good state of preservation underground, particularly
beneath the platform which will preserve archaeological evidence for the
conventual buildings.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Nottinghamshire: Volume I, (1906)
Religious Houses in Nottinghamshire
Cole, R E G, The Priory of St. Mary of Broadholme
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971)
NAR/OS record, Harper, F.R., SK 87 SE 3, (1962)

Source: Historic England

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