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Wykeham Abbey (nr Brompton)



Wykeham Abbey was a priory of Cistercian nuns, founded in around 1153 by Pain Fitz Osbert and that survived until the dissolution of the monasteries. The priory was given a number of properties to support itself, including control of the church of Wykeham. In 1291 it was valued as having an income of £22 15s. This seems to have stayed rather constant and the priory had a clear income of £20 in 1527 and £25 17s. 6d a few years later. This made it a fairly small establishment compared to some of its neighbours - Newburgh Priory, with a similar number of monks, had a clear income of £367 8s 3d at the same time,.

At the dissolution of the monasteries a list of twelve named nuns and the prioress was given. They were all given pensions, and the payments can be traced into the reign of Edward VI.

The Priory suffered from a disastrous fire at some point in the fourteenth century. It was intact in 1314 but recorded as ruinous in 1321. During the reign of Edward III the king cancelled the payment of an annual rent of £3 12s 7d for land in the honour of Pickering because the priory, church, cloisters and twenty-four other houses had been accidentally burnt down.

After the fourteenth century priory no longer had any lay brethren, and the first floor of their accommodation became a granary.

As with many smaller monastic foundations most historical mentions of Wykeham priory came when there were problems that needed external intervention. Archbishop Greenfield of York conducted a visitation in 1314 and left a set of instructions that suggests there were some problems within the priory. There was another visitation in 1351, and another just before 1444 in which the prioress was said to have committed 'grave defects and crimes' and was deprived of her post.

Another problem was reported in February 1450. Two nuns had decided to make a pilgrimage to Rome, but one of the two had died on the way. The survivor, a Katherine Thornyf, had abandoned her pilgrimage and had lived in sin with a married man in London. She had later repented, and asked the Archbishop of York for absolution. He had granted this and was now sending her back to Wykeham to be re-admitted to the Priory.

After the dissolution a country house with the same name was built on the same site.


Grid Reference: SE 965 814