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Site of St Catherine's Priory and St Sepulchre's Hospital, Lincoln



Reference Name MLI87084

Name:
Site of St Catherine's Priory and St Sepulchre's Hospital, Lincoln

Summary:
Site of the Gilbertine Priory of St Catherine and St Sepulchre's Hospital, Lincoln.

Location:
BOULTHAM, LINCOLN, LINCOLNSHIRE
PARK, LINCOLN, LINCOLNSHIRE

Description:
Lincoln’s St Sepulchre hospital was founded between 1094 and 1123 for poor and aged sick. It was in the area to the south of Altham Terrace. After 1148 it became a Gilbertine priory dedicated to St Sepulchre and SS James and Catherine for the care of the sick. It was discontinued at the Reformation. {1}

The Gilbertine priory of St Catherine was the largest and most important of the Lincoln monasteries. It was founded in about 1148 by the Bishop of Lincoln but the origins of the priory are unusual in that the Gilbertines were specifically given the responsibility of caring for the inmates of the hospital of St Sepulchre that had been founded not long before by Bishop Robert Bloet (1094-1123). The priory was established beside and to the south of the hospital but the two closes remained distinct and this indicates that the hospital was considered to be an important institution in its own right. St Sepulchre’s seems to have developed a particular specialism in the care of orphaned and sick children. St Katherine’s was a very important wool-producing house in Lincolnshire and it is possible that the management of the flocks was the primary responsibility of their Southgarth Grange, which apparently stood in closes south of the main monastic precinct. {2}

The Black Death affected the fortunes of the house very severely. Even in 1348 the prior urged that the possessions of the house were not sufficient for its burdens, and in 1391 the house was poor and in debt. In 1535 there were five lay sisters looking after orphans and the sick in the hospital, the annual cost being over £21. In 1536 the prior, William Griffiths, is said to have lost his position at the priory for promoting the Lincolnshire Rising and other offences; but he forcibly reinstated himself, expelling the new prior, and after the surrender of the house in 1538 he and twelve other canons received pensions, the five lay sisters nothing. {3}{4}

The priory lands were granted to the Duke of Suffolk after the Dissolution, who promptly sold them to Vincent and Thomas Grantham in 1540. A substantial residence was then established on the site. The artist Buck recorded a sketch of the residence, although a 1779 map by Armstrong records the residence as ruins. {5}{6}

A quantity of disarticulated human remains were revealed in May 1993, during the archaeological monitoring of the construction of an extension to Strut House, 35 St Catherines, Lincoln (PRN 70401a - SK 9709 6943). The remains were thought to have originated from a burial ground associated with St Catherine's Priory, although were found in a disturbed state, and had likely been redeposited from elsewhere. No conclusive evidence of the exact location of the priory was identified. {7}{8}

Possible traces of activity associated with the priory were identified during an earthwork survey, conducted on South Common in 2004 (see PRN 70601). Earthworks relating to possible former water use on the common were identified, including a possible conduit. St Catherine’s Priory was given permission to build a conduit to a well in Canwick parish, to supply them with water in 1306. The priory kept also stock on the common, as well as using water from the springs there, and there were disputes with the city about stocking levels. The priory was also said to have constructed a windmill on the common, although no trace of this was found. {9}

Medieval activity, thought to be associated with the St Catherine's Priory, was revealed in 2004, during the excavation of a single trial trench at 21-25 St Catherines, Lincoln (PRN 70401b - SK 9712 6949). The evaluation revealed a buried soil, from which fragments of 13th to 16th century medieval pottery and tile were recovered. A number of pits were also recorded, either cut into or sealed by the buried layer. The features and recovered artefacts are contemporary with the date of the priory activity, and are likely associated, although no walls or firm evidence for any buildings was found. Re-used medieval architectural fragments were also found at 21 St Catherines, where they had been incorporated in the construction of the 20th century conservatory and driveway piers. Although few of the fragments had distinctive decoration, diagnostic of date or function, it was thought possible that they had originated from the medieval priory. {10}{11}

A small portion of a limestone structure was revealed in May 2005, during the archaeological monitoring of the construction of an access passageway at The Priory Centre, St Catherine's Church, Lincoln (PRN 70401c - SK 9710 6954). The structure was made of roughly hewn limestone fragments bonded with a light yellow sand mortar, and was believed to have formed a butress, probably associated with St Catherine's Priory. The structure was sealed by a deposit containing fragments of 15th to 16th century tile and pottery. {12}{13}

Remains of significant medieval archaeology clearly associated with the Gilbertine Priory of St Catherine's was revealed in June 2007, during archaeological excavation on land at 45-47 St Catherines, Lincoln (PRN 70401d - SK 9709 6935). The remains comprised a large number of human cist burials and the remains of several structures, representing multiple phases of cemetery use and construction activity.
The site appears to have initially been used as a cemetery, with the earliest phase of activity represented by six cist burials. All of the burials were east to west aligned, constructed of large limestone blocks and slabs, and dated to the mid 12th century. Five of the burials were excavated, with each containing the remains of a young to prime aged adult male. Osteological evidence and the more expensive nature of their burials would suggest that these were relatively high status individuals, possibly patrons of the monastery. Associated with the burials were a small number of posthole features, possibly representing part of a former timber structure of uncertain function.
A large stone apsidal building appears to have been constructed on the site shortly afterwards, at some point between the mid 12th to mid 13th century. The building appears to have been quite substantial, with many of the walls being c.1.5m wide, and buttresses used to stabilise the structure. Its form and location would suggest that this structure was a gatehouse chapel, possibly with an attached rectangular nave. The remains of 22 graves to the east of this structure were thought to be associated, comprising 7 inhumations in full or partial cists, 10 simple earthen burials and 5 anthropomorphic earthen burials, where the grave is cut to match the outline of the body. All of the individuals buried here were of adults, with a wide range of ages represented. Most of the burials were of males, though some females were present; it was thought that these burials comprised the middle ranking members of the local community, given their demographic profile.
The chapel structure appears to have survived until the mid 13th century, when it was demolished and replaced by a similarly built, though much larger building. This replacement building again appears to have functioned as a gatehouse chapel, and is thought to have been in use until around the end of the 14th century. Only a small portion of this building survived within the excavated area, and no other features or graves could be confidently associated with this phase of activity. The quality of materials used in the construction of this building would likely indicate that it was a substantial and costly structure.
The site appears to have seen a period of relative dormancy during the 15th century, with natural accumulation of soils forming over much of the area. This dormancy appears to last until possibly the early 16th century, when the site was again used as a cemetery. The remains of 22 burials cutting through the abandonment layer were excavated, including 2 cist burials, 17 simple earthen burials and 3 coffin burials. The group was again dominated by adult males, with only 5 females present, although a single infant burial was also included. This group was thought to represent individuals from a broad section of the local community. The remains of an east to west aligned ditch, thought to represent the southern boundary of the cememtery, was also excavated. This cemetery appears to have continued in use until the Dissolution, when the Priory lands were sold off, and burial at the site was discontinued. {14}{15}

Remains of medieval activity including several inhumations and a substantial stone wall, all clearly associated with the former priory were recorded in December 2007, during trial trenching at the Upper Witham Drainage Board building (PRN 70401e - SK 9708 6938). The human remains included articulated inhumations as well as disarticulated bone and are from both adult and juvenile individuals. The wall was constructed of limestone, over 0.9m wide, and was aligned on an east to west axis. It appears to have formed part of a building associated with the priory, and fragments of ecclesiastical stonework and painted window glass were identified in the demolition layer directly above. A small assemblage of medieval pottery and tile was also recovered. {16}{17}

The remains of metalled surface, almost certainly associated with the medieval priory of St Catherines, was recorded in May 2008 during archaeological monitoring on land at 7 St Catherines, Lincoln (PRN 70401f - SK 9712 6960). The surface was constructed of small angular limestone fragments bonded with mortar. Fragments of mid 12th to 14th century tile were recovered from the surface's make-up deposit. {18}{19}

Evidence of eight separate phases of building and demolition, clearly associated with the Gilbertine Priory of St Catherine, was recorded in June 2008, during the excavation of a single trial trench within the 19th century St Catherine's Church (PRN 70401g - SK 9713 6955). The remains comprised a series of surfaces, walls and demolition layers, dating from the 13th to the 16th centuries. The most significant building remains were dated to the 14th century and consisted of a floor surface, wall foundation and a ceramic water pipe contained within a stone-lined culvert. The pipe is thought to have formed part of the priory's fresh water system. The latest phase of building uncovered was dated to the 15th-16th century and consisted of a wall with possible internal buttress and associated floor surface. Small assemblages of medieval pottery, tile and animal bone were recovered. {20}{21}

Further sections of the ceramic water pipe previously identified at St Catherine's Church were exposed in August 2008, during a second phase of archaeological investigation. This second phase was conducted to inform the proposed construction of a glass floor to display the remains, and involved the partial widening of the original trial trench. As well as exposing more of the medieval water pipe, the investigation recovered further assemblages of medieval pottery, tile and animal bone, providing further dating evidence for the sequence of archaeological deposits previously recorded. {22}{23}

Further extents of some of the walls and surfaces previously identified at St Catherine's Church were exposed in April 2009, during a third phase of archaeological investigation. This third phase involved further extensions to both the north and south of the phase 2 widened trench, and allowed a greater understanding of the remains exposed. A reassessment of stonework found in the south-western part of the trench indicated the presence of a north to south aligned wall, dated to the 15th or 16th century, flanked by a spead of demolition material to the west. Further examination of the water pipe revealed no evidence of a continuation to the south, beyond the point where previous work had demonstrated it to have been truncated, although the culvert in which the pipe would have laid was still extant. A further large assemblage of medieval tile was also recovered. {24}{25}

Sources:
1 Bibliographic reference: Crust, Linda. 2002. Lincolnshire Almshouses: Nine Centuries of Charitable Housing. p.16
2 Bibliographic reference: Jones, Michael, J; Stocker, D.; and Vince, A.. 2003. The City by the Pool including LARA. pp.242, 247-48, 266, 268, 272, 274, 301, 311-12
3 Bibliographic reference: Page, W. (editor). 1906. The Victoria County History. Lincolnshire volume II. pp.188-91
4 Bibliographic reference: Knowles, D. and Hadcock, R. N.. 1971. Medieval Religious Houses, England and Wales. p.198
5 Intervention Report: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 2001. 13 St Catherine's Road, Lincoln. LAS site code: LSTC01
6 Excavation archive: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 2001. 13 St Catherine's Road, Lincoln. LCNCC 2001.88
7 Intervention Report: City of Lincoln Archaeology Unit. 1994. Strut House, 35 St Catherines, Lincoln. CLAU site code: SC93
8 Excavation archive: City of Lincoln Archaeology Unit. 1994. Strut House, 35 St Catherines, Lincoln. LCNCC 2005.177
9 Intervention Report: English Heritage. 2005. South Common, Lincoln: An Archaeological Investigation of an Urban Open Space. -
10 Intervention Report: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 2005. 21-25 St Catherines, Lincoln. LAS site code: LISC04
11 Excavation archive: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 2005. 21-25 St Catherines, Lincoln. LCNCC 2004.246
12 Intervention Report: Mike Jarvis Archaeological Services. 2006. The Priory Centre, St Catherine's Church, Lincoln. MJAS site code: PCSC05
13 Excavation archive: Mike Jarvis Archaeological Services. 2006. The Priory Centre St Catherine's Church, Lincoln: Archaeological Watching Brief. LCNCC 2005.94
14 Intervention Report: Pre-Construct Archaeology (Lincoln). 2008. Land at 45-47 St Catherines, Lincoln. PCA site code: SCEL 07
15 Excavation archive: Pre-Construct Archaeology (Lincoln). 2008. Land at 45-47 St Catherines, Lincoln. LCNCC 2007.139
16 Intervention Report: Allen Archaeological Associates. 2008. Trial Trenching and Photographic Survey at the Upper Witham Drainage Board Building, St Catherine's Road, Lincoln. AAA site code: LUWD07
17 Excavation archive: Allen Archaeological Associates. 2008. Trial Trenching and Photographic Survey at the Upper Witham Drainage Board Building, St Catherine's Road, Lincoln. LCNCC 2007.250
18 Intervention Report: Mike Jarvis Archaeological Services. 2008. 7 St Catherines, Lincoln. MJAS site code: SCLI08
19 Excavation archive: Mike Jarvis Archaeological Services. 2008. 7 St Catherines, Lincoln. LCNCC 2008.66
20 Intervention Report: Allen Archaeological Associates. 2008. St Catherine's Church, Lincoln. AAA site code: LSCC 08
21 Excavation archive: Allen Archaeological Associates. 2008. St Catherine's Church, Lincoln. LCNCC 2008.80
22 Intervention Report: Allen Archaeological Associates. 2008. St Catherine's Priory Centre, Lincoln: Part 2. AAA site code: LSCC 08
23 Excavation archive: Allen Archaeological Associates. 2008. St Catherine's Priory Centre, Lincoln: Part 2. LCNCC 2008.80
24 Intervention Report: Allen Archaeological Associates. 2009. St Catherine's Church, Lincoln: Phase 3. AAA site code: LSCC 09
25 Excavation archive: Allen Archaeological Associates. 2009. St Catherine's Church, Lincoln: Phase 3. LCNCC 2008.80

Links:
Lincolnshire County Council is not responsible for the content of external weblinks.
The following reports are available from the ADS digital library.
5 Intervention Report: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 2001. 13 St Catherine's Road, Lincoln. LAS site code: LSTC01
10 Intervention Report: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 2005. 21-25 St Catherines, Lincoln. LAS site code: LISC04
12 Intervention Report: Mike Jarvis Archaeological Services. 2006. The Priory Centre, St Catherine's Church, Lincoln. MJAS site code: PCSC05
14 Intervention Report: Pre-Construct Archaeology (Lincoln). 2008. Land at 45-47 St Catherines, Lincoln. PCA site code: SCEL 07
16 Intervention Report: Allen Archaeological Associates. 2008. Trial Trenching and Photographic Survey at the Upper Witham Drainage Board Building, St Catherine's Road, Lincoln. AAA site code: LUWD07
20 Intervention Report: Allen Archaeological Associates. 2008. St Catherine's Church, Lincoln. AAA site code: LSCC 08
24 Intervention Report: Allen Archaeological Associates. 2009. St Catherine's Church, Lincoln: Phase 3. AAA site code: LSCC 09

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Last updated: 31-March-2016 12:21:55

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