Monday, September 26, 2011

Sempringham Priory

click photo to enlarge
Anyone looking at today's main photograph who saw the preceding blog post will be thinking, "OK, I see St Andrew's church, but where's the priory?" The answer is, it's under the long, regular shaped patch of uncultivated land in the middle foreground.

Like many medieval priories, abbeys, and monasteries, the building erected by St Gilbert and his followers that was the birthplace of the Gilbertines, the only monastic order to be founded in Britain, was abandonded in 1538 on the orders of Henry VIII. The Dissolution of the Monasteries as this act of vandalism was known resulted in the disappearance of many fine buildings. Others became ruins that later generations and their poets and painters found romantic. Quite a few ended up converted into rich men's houses. Some were reduced in size with an aisle left to be converted into a parish church. Local examples of the latter include South Kyme church and Croyland Abbey at Crowland.

At Sempringham the Clinton family bought the Priory and had the great building taken down. A hall was built on the site, probably using the stone. This had a shorter life than the ecclesiastical building that it replaced, and all that remains today of both buildings are foundations below ground and some surface rubble. A well associated with the Priory can be seen in the corner of the churchyard, and the outline of the canons' and nuns' (the Gilbertines uniquely admitted men and women) fishponds can be seen by a small stream. As we walked across the field we noticed that the ploughman had thrown a few large stones, scored by the plough, onto the track, something that many generations of ploughmen must have done as they kept turning up evidence of the great buildings below the soil's surface.

The main photograph was taken towards the end of our walk as we passed the church and Priory site at a distance. Earlier in the day we'd walked on a path nearer St Andrew's. It was then that I took the smaller photograph from a viewpoint where I took a similar shot a few years ago.

For more of my photographs of Sempringham church and its long-gone Priory see here and here for a fine old door, and here for a similar view to the smaller one above.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Main Photo
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 80mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On