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Tupholme Abbey: a Premonstratensian abbey and post-medieval houses and formal gardens

A Scheduled Monument in Tupholme, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.1988 / 53°11'55"N

Longitude: -0.2887 / 0°17'19"W

OS Eastings: 514410.642285

OS Northings: 368220.792747

OS Grid: TF144682

Mapcode National: GBR GPR.KSK

Mapcode Global: WHHKF.JVQM

Entry Name: Tupholme Abbey: a Premonstratensian abbey and post-medieval houses and formal gardens

Scheduled Date: 25 January 1927

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017403

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30221

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Tupholme

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Bucknall St Margaret

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the remains of Tupholme Abbey, a Premonstratensian
monastery founded between 1155-65 on land granted by Alan and Gilbert de
Neville. In 1342 the manor of Ranby was granted to the abbey by Ralph de
Neville. Tupholme was a relatively small establishment of up to 12 canons and
had limited endowments in the county of Lincolnshire. Along with other
Lincolnshire monastic sites Tupholme was involved in the wool export trade,
although to a lesser extent than other houses. To assist in this trade it was
linked to the River Witham by a navigable waterway granted by Henry II.

The abbey was dissolved in 1536 and the property granted to Sir Thomas Heneage
of Hainton. Thereafter the site was occupied by a country house, demolished
around the beginning of the 18th century and replaced in the 19th century by
cottages and a farmhouse, which were themselves dismantled in 1986. The
remains of the medieval monastery are therefore intermingled with those of the
post-medieval house and farms and the monument includes the earthworks and
standing remains of medieval and post-medieval buildings, ponds, ditches and
associated features.

The monument is situated approximately 2km south east of Bardney on a low
island of sand and gravel within an area of former marshland. The remains take
the form of a group of earthworks, standing remains and buried archaeological
deposits identified by aerial survey, which cover an area approximately 350m
by 300m. The centre of the monument is occupied by the standing remains of the
south wall of the abbey's refectory, a Grade I Listed structure which is
included in the scheduling. The wall is comprised of coursed limestone rubble
with ashlar dressings, and survives to a maximum of 5.4m in height and up to
23m in length. It includes the remains of six lancet windows and a reader's
pulpit and can be dated architecturally to the early 13th century.

Abutting the south side of the wall are the remains of the 19th century Abbey
Farm consisting of a brick built farmhouse and a stone cottage. Low earthwork
banks immediately north of the refectory wall defining a sub-rectangular area
18m by 13m internally, are interpreted as representing the location of the
claustral range and subsequently the position of the post-dissolution house,
itself having utilised the standing remains of the eastern, western and
southern ranges. The northern range of the cloister would originally have been
occupied by the monastic church, although no obvious remains of this structure
have been identified. The stone foundations of a rectangular building up to
47m by 20m situated approximately 70m south of the refectory wall are thought
to represent a separate monastic building in the nature of the abbot's

The core monastic buildings probably lay within an inner court, perhaps
defined by a wall. This inner court lay within a larger monastic precinct
which would also have been defined in some way and which would have had a
gatehouse at the main entrance. The antiquarian Stukeley made a sketch of the
gatehouse in 1726. It is thought that this structure was demolished by the end
of the 18th century as there are no 19th century records of it. The exact
location of the gatehouse remains unknown but it is likely to have stood along
the northern boundary of the monument as the position of the road here is
thought to mirror the line of the precinct boundary. On the eastern side, the
boundary of the outer precinct is interpreted as having followed the line of
the present field boundary. To the south the field drain, itself representing
the approximate course of the navigable waterway, is interpreted as having
marked the boundary on this side. To the west the monument is defined by
parallel linear ditches up to 350m in length which are visible as soilmarks on
aerial photographs. These are also interpreted as representing the course of
the boundary marking the outer monastic precinct.

Surrounding the core monastic building remains are the earthworks of extensive
water control features, including ponds and channels. In the south eastern
part of the monument a series of interconnecting linear channels, partly water
filled, define a rectilinear moated area approximately 45m by 20m with an
entrance on the north west corner. These, in addition to large earthwork
enclosures north and east of the claustral range, are interpreted as the
remains of the formal gardens associated with the post-dissolution house.
Further remains of the post-medieval gardens include part adaptation of
earlier features. In the southern part of the monument a series of four
partly water-filled linear depressions up to 200m in length and 7m in width
aligned on a north east-south west axis are interpreted as monastic fishponds
reused in the post-dissolution period. A further linear depression up to 50m
in length and 7.5m in width on the north western side of the monument, and a
soilmark approximately 70m in length to the south west, identified from aerial
photographs are similarly interpreted.

All trackways, gates, fences and standing buildings (apart from the south wall
of the abbey's refectory) are excluded from the scheduling 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

From the time of St Augustine's mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597
to the reign of Henry VIII, monasticism formed an important facet of both
religious and secular life in the British Isles. Settlements of religious
communities, including monasteries, were built to house communities of monks,
canons (priests), and sometimes lay-brothers, living a common life of
religious observance under some form of systematic discipline. It is estimated
from documentary evidence that over 700 monasteries were founded in England.
These ranged in size from major communities with several hundred members to
tiny establishments with a handful of brethren. They belonged to a wide
variety of different religious orders, each with its own philosophy. As a
result, they vary considerably in the detail of their appearance and layout,
although all possess the basic elements of church, domestic accommodation for
the community, and work buildings. Monasteries were inextricably woven into
the fabric of medieval society, acting not only as centres of worship,
learning and charity, but also, because of the vast landholdings of some
orders, as centres of immense wealth and political influence. They were
established in all parts of England, some in towns and others in the remotest
of areas. Many monasteries acted as the foci of wide networks including parish
churches, almshouses, hospitals, farming estates and tenant villages. The
Premonstratensian order, or "White Canons", were not monks in the strict sense
but rather communities of priests living together under a rule. The first
Premonstratensian establishments were double houses (for men and women), but
later they founded some 45 houses for men in England. The Premonstratensian
order modelled itself on the Cistercian values of austerity and seclusion and
founded all its monasteries in rural locations.

The remains of Tupholme Abbey survive well as standing remains, extensive
earthworks and buried deposits which have been largely undisturbed by
excavation. Waterlogging in the ponds, moat and other channels suggests a high
level of survival for organic remains. The monument will preserve valuable
evidence for the relationship of the monastery with the marshland landscape in
which it was founded and with the post-dissolution manor which succeeded it.

Many early houses had gardens associated with them. The creation of gardens
has an early history in England, the earliest known examples being associated
with Roman villas. However, the major development in gardening took place in
the late medieval and early post-medieval periods when the idea of the garden
as a `pleasure ground' developed. Early gardens took a variety of forms. Some
involved significant water management works to create elaborate water gardens
which could include a series of ponds and even ornamental canal systems. At
other sites flower gardens were favoured, with planting in elaborately shaped
and geometrically laid out beds. Planting arrangements were often complemented
by urns, statues and other garden furniture. Such sites were often provided
with raised walkways or prospect mounds which provided vantage points from
which the garden design and layout could be seen and fully appreciated. Whilst
gardens were probably a common accompaniment to high status houses of the 16th
century and later date, continued occupation of houses and related use and
remodelling of gardens in response to changing fashions means that early
remains rarely survive undisturbed. Gardens provide a valuable insight into
contemporary aesthetics and views about how the landscape could be modified to
enhance the surroundings. Their design often mirrors elements of the design of
the associated house; particularly following the symmetry of the buildings. In
view of their rarity, great variety of form, and importance for understanding
high status houses and their occupants, all surviving examples of early date
will be identified as nationally important.

The remains of the formal gardens surrounding the site of the post-dissolution
house at Tupholme offer a good opportunity to understand the development and
adaptation of a monastic site, particularly the reuse of industrial features
for leisure purposes. The gardens also provide an insight into the wealth and
social status of the occupants of the post-dissolution house.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cocroft, W, Wilson, P, Field Survey of Site of Premonstratensian Abbey of Tupholme, (1989)
Cocroft, W, Wilson, P, Field Survey of Site of Premonstratensian Abbey of Tupholme, (1989)
Colvin, M, The White Canons in England, (1951)
Oliver, Reverend G, Acc. of the Religious Houses Formerly Sit. East of River Witham, (1846)
Listing Report: TF 16 NE Abbey Ruins, (1966)
RCHME, A.P. Plot of the Earthworks: Tupholme Abbey, Lincolnshire, (1989)
Start, D, (1997)
Turner, J. and Leach, T., Tupholme Abbey - Notes for an outing, (1974)

Source: Historic England

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