Monument record MLI98113 - Swineshead Abbey


The Abbey of St Mary at Swineshead a medieval Cistercian monastery

Type and Period (6)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

The date of the founding of the Cistercian Abbey at Swineshead is given variously as 1134, 1135 and 1148, the date of the dissolution as 1536, and the mother house as Furness. The present mansion on the site incorporates some of the remains of the Abbey. Aerial photographs indicate earthworks, probably associated with the abbey in area TF051407. To the east of the site there was found a large scatter of mainly 13th to 15th century pottery, human and animal bones, stones, tile and pots. A small bronze sheath was also found. {1}{2}{3}{4}{5}{6}{7} The present house at this site is named 'Abbey Farm' [PRN 14505]. It is unoccupied and shows no external evidence of medieval work. The only surviving earthworks are a fishpond complex with associated drainage at TF24954055. Adjacent areas are under plough. No surface finds were present. Published survey (25inch) revised.{1} St Mary's Abbey, Cistercian, was founded in about 1135, and dissolved in 1536. Part of the site has been ploughed. Earthworks of the Abbey are still visible in the unploughed portion of the site. The present Abbey House is a derelict farmhouse, built in 1607, and incorporating architectural fragments from the Abbey. Finds from the site include a gold ring and two silver pennies of Edward I (dated 1280-83). Also found was a barrel padlock key made of iron; a drawing of which is in parish file.{8}{9} The scheduling was revised in March 1999, and includes the known extent of the earthwork and buried remains of part of the inner precinct and an associated dyling field system of the Abbey of St Mary, a Cistercian monastery founded in the early twelfth century by the Lord of the Manor, Robert de Gresley. King John is reputed to have fallen ill at Swineshead Abbey a few days before his death at Newark in October 1216. Documentary sources suggest that the income of the abbey was based upon the export of wool. In the late fourteenth century there were 17 monks and three lay brothers at Swineshead; by 1534 there were only seven monks. The abbey was dissolved in 1536 and later passed to Edward, Lord Clinton, although the first documented reuse of the site dates from 1607 when a farmhouse was built out of the abbey ruins by Sir John Lockton (see PRN14505). {11} There is a medieval limestone effigy, dated of about 1280 to 1300, affixed upright against the north-east return of the exterior wall of Swineshead Abbey house (see PRN14505), built on the site of the former Swineshead Abbey. It is assumed that the effigy came originally from the medieval church at Swineshead Abbey. It has been suggested that it may be Robert de Gresley whose widow held the advowson of the church in Swineshead in 1284. {12}

Sources/Archives (12)

  •  Index: OS CARD INDEX. SWINESHEAD. TF 24 SW:7,1965.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: D. Knowles and R.N. Hadcock. 1953. Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales - First Edition. p.119.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: William Page (ed). 1906. The Victoria County History: Lincolnshire - Volume 2. pp.145-46.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: Sir William Dugdale. 1817-30. Monasticon Anglicanum: a History of the Abbeys and other Monasteries, Hospitals, Friaries, and Cathedral and Collegiate Churches, with their Dependencies, in England and Wales. -.
  •  Aerial Photograph: J.K.S. St Joseph. 1945-79. Cambridge University Collection. JE70,1952.
  •  Index: SMR FILE. SWINESHEAD. TF 24 SW:H,1976, R.W.H..
  •  Bibliographic Reference: William White. 1856. History, Gazetteer and Directory of Lincolnshire - Second Edition. p.816.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: Nikolaus Pevsner and John Harris, with Nicholas Antram. 1989. Buildings of England: Lincolnshire (Second Edition). p.690.
  •  Aerial Photograph: 1945-84. CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY COLLECTION. ET59,1950.
  •  Scheduling Record: English Heritage. 1999. Revised scheduling document 22747. MPP 23.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: Downing, Mark. 2010. Medieval Military Monuments in Lincolnshire. No.4, p.24.



Grid reference Centred TF 2489 4068 (369m by 354m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

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Record last edited

Mar 21 2021 8:35PM


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