Haverholme Priory

Haverholme Priory was a monastery situated 4 miles north east of Sleaford, Lincolnshire, near Anwick.


Gilbert of Sempringham, founded the only English order of the Cistercian monks, who were given Haverholme Priory, by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, located between Anwick and Ewerby in a lonely, grey, wet and desolate part of Lincolnshire, where they arrived on February 4 1139, prompting the observation "Locus vastae, solitudinis et horroris". ('A remote, solitary and horrid place')

The Cistercians apparently hated the place, and promptly sold it to Gilbert, whose Order was not averse to living where other people would not.

Gilbertine operation

The Gilbertines also inherited the responsibility for keeping the neighbouring fens drained, and managed to do that fairly well apart from a couple of hiccups. They were also supposed to maintain a foot ferry to Sleaford across the River Slea at Ewerby Waith, but they were summoned to account in 1316 when it fell into disrepair. They were summoned again in 1360 when Alice Everingham, daughter of John de Everingham, who was supposed to have taken vows, fled from the Priory, only to be hunted down and recaptured. She complained to the Bishop of the time that she had never taken vows and she was being held against her will, so he ordered her to be released.

It is rumoured that Thomas a Becket hid there during one of his arguments with the King.


Henry VIII dissolved the Priory and sold it, ultimately it was bought by George William Finch-Hatton, 10th Earl of Winchilsea and 5th Earl of Nottingham, who rebuilt it in 1830. Less than a century later, the priory had fallen into disuse. Most of it was demolished after no buyer could be found, even after an auction on 25 January 1926 to dispose of it and its contents. One casualty of this was the Sleaford Canal locks, which also fell into disuse, effectively closing the canal.

Present state

The ruined remains of this deserted abbey are now a Grade II listed building and a designated Ancient Monument.

Ghostly footsteps have reportedly been heard around the ruins, and Lord Halifax claimed it was the most haunted place in England.

[Priory Remains: [http://www.lincswalkinggroup.org.uk/diary/041114/041114-09.jpg] ]

External links

* The records of the Priory are kept at: [http://www.archon.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archon/searches/locresult_details.asp?LR=159, Nottingham University Library, Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections]

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