Elstow Abbey

Elstow Abbey was a monastery for Benedictine nuns in Bedfordshire, England. It was founded c.1075 by Judith, Countess of Huntingdon, a niece of William the Conqueror and therefore classed as a royal foundation.

History

The monastery was known to have been involved in numerous lawsuits, with an array of monasteries including that of Dunstable Priory, Newhouse and St Albans Abbey, concerning the advowson of various parishes. The nuns often appear to have resorted to aggressive behaviour.There was further trouble in the 14th century when the nearby hospital of St Leonard needed to close and divert a footpath used by the abbey, for the purpose of building construction. The abbess objected and even following a lawsuit in which the abbey lost, they still prevented the work for a further two years until the hospital successfully sought intervention by the Crown, obtaining letters patent.

Further incidents followed:

In 1337 Elizabeth Morteyn, who was then abbess, claimed the 'third penny' from the town of Bedford, in virtue of an alleged grant from Malcolm IV, King of Scotland; the case was carried before Parliament, and the burgesses were successful in proving that Malcolm never had any lordship in the town.

There were numerous reports and complaints of unorthodox behaviour, with a visiting bishop commenting that there was 'too much wandering of the nuns out of the monastery.' Also, as many of the nuns and usually the abbess came from high ranking families, they had friends at court who often visited and even stayed in the monastery purely for social reasons. Some 'secular' women even seem to have been living in the monastery and eventually Bishop Gynwell ordered that none were to stay except those granted a special license to do so. Even so, in 1379 Bishop Buckingham had to order the abbess to dismiss all secular persons from the monastery.

Various records of subsequent years show that little ever improved and if anything the monastery became increasingly secularised, with the nuns maintaining individual households, dining with friends and wearing secular clothing. Successive attempts at intervention seem to have been unsuccessful and probably ignored.

The dissolution and beyond

There were twenty three nuns in residence besides the abbess, Elizabeth Boyvill, when the monastery was closed in 1539, all of whom were then pensioned off. The land then passed to Edmund Harvey.

Following the dissolution, the majority of the church nave was blocked off and retained for parish use. The remainder of the church was demolished after 1580. In 1616 Sir Thomas Hillersdon purchased the remaining monastic buildings and incorporated them into a new house, which itself later became a ruin. The church contains some 15th century brasses, 17th century and later tombs and furnishings. Another survivor of the monastery is a small vaulted building on the south side of the church, originally a parlour and now used as a vestry.

References

* 'Houses of Benedictine nuns: The abbey of Elstow', A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 1 (1904), pp. 353-58.
* Anthony New. 'A Guide to the Abbeys of England And Wales', p166-68. Constable.

ee also

*Abbeys and priories in England

External links

* [http://www.elstow-abbey.org.uk/index.html Official site]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Elstow — infobox UK place country = England latitude= 52.10696 longitude= 0.46487 population= official name= Elstow shire district= Bedford shire county = Bedfordshire region= East of England constituency westminster= post town= BEDFORD|postcode district …   Wikipedia

  • Elstow — The little village of Elstow, in the English county of Bedfordshire, is almost certainly the home of this locational surname. Elstow itself is first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Elnestou and later in 1168 as Alnestoua . In his famous… …   Surnames reference

  • History of Bedfordshire — Bedfordshire is an English shire county which lies between approximately 25 miles and 55 miles (or approximately 40 and 90 kilometres) north of central London.axon BedfordshireThe Saxon invaders were naturally attracted to Bedfordshire by its… …   Wikipedia

  • List of abbeys and priories in England — Contents 1 Overview 1.1 Article layout 2 Abbreviations and key …   Wikipedia

  • Albert Richardson — Infobox Architect image size = (if image is smaller than 250px) caption = name = Sir Albert Edward Richardson nationality = British birth date = 19 May 1880 birth place = London death date = 3 February 1964 death place = Ampthill, Bedfordshire… …   Wikipedia

  • Judith of Lens — Countess Judith (born in Normandy between 1054 and 1055, died after 1086), was a niece of William the Conqueror. She was a daughter of his sister Adelaide of Normandy, Countess of Aumale and Lambert II, Count of Lens. In 1070, Judith married Earl …   Wikipedia

  • Bedfordshire Football League — Member Clubs (2008 09)Premier Division*AFC Kempston Town *Bedford Sports Athletic *Blunham *Caldecote *Campton *Dunton *Henlow *Ickwell Old Warden *Meltis Corinthians *Oakley Sports *Renhold United *Riseley Sports *Sandy *Sharnbrook… …   Wikipedia

  • Nicola de la Haye — Nicholaa de la Haye (between 1150 and 1156 to 1230) was the eldest daughter and co heiress of Richard de la Haye (d. 1169), a Lincolnshire lord, and a descendant of the pre Conquest Lord Colswain of Lincolnshire. Nicholaa s first husband was… …   Wikipedia

  • Cauldwell, Bedford — infobox UK place country = England static static image caption = latitude= longitude= official name = Cauldwell population = 8,656 [ [http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/LeadKeyFigures.do?a=3 b=5948426 c=Cauldwell d=14 e=15… …   Wikipedia

  • Royal Ordnance Factory — Royal Ordnance Factories redirects here. For the football club, see Royal Ordnance Factories F.C.. Royal Ordnance Factories (ROFs) was the collective name of the UK government s munitions factories in and after World War II. Until privatisation… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.