From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Tupholme Abbey

53° 11′ 56.4″ N, 0° 17′ 16.8″ W

  • History
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Tupholme Abbey is a Premonstratensian abbey located near Bardney in Lincolnshire close to the river Witham.

The abbey was founded in 1155 by Gilbert and Alan de Neville in the Witham valley, an area known for its high number of monasteries, six on the east bank of the river and three on the west bank. An abbot and twelve canons were sent from Newsham Abbey to develop the site.

The abbeys income was from agriculture and wool production but it never thrived. In 1347, with the abbey heavy in debt, the Abbot was accused of counterfeiting and forging money, which he bought corn and wine, selling these on for profit.

Life at Tupholme was regulated by a series of eight daily services, which began with Vigils at 2.00am, and ended with Compline at 7.30pm. The lay brothers also had the regular work of growing crops, husbanding sheep and tending the Abbey's outlying lands. The canons ate their meals in the refectory, which was on the first floor above a store room. Their religious observances continued whilst they ate, for a pulpit was built into the refectory wall, from which lessons would be read during the meal.

The abbey was dissolved in 1536, with the lands and building granted to Sir Thomas Heneage. He built a house for his daughter, this was passed down the Willoughby family until sold in 1661 to the Vyner family They demolished the Tudor mansion in the 1700's and built Tupholme Hall retaining one wall of the mediaeval abbey as a feature in the gardens.

The site of the abbey became a farm in the 1800's, and then used for labourers housing in the 1950's. By 1970 the site was derelict. Tupholme abbey was used in 1972 for a large pop festival, staring Rod Stewart and the Beach Boys. Tupholme Hall was demolished in 1976.

In 1988 the site was acquired by the Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire, repaired and then opened to the public.