Carrow
Community ID
 
1018
 
Alternate Names
 
S. Mary of Carrow, S. Mary of Carhowe in 1146. Also known as Carow, Carhou, Kairo, S. Mary and S. John of Norwich. / S. Mary iuxta Norwicu , 12 th century ( seal )/ S. Mary de Karowe , 13 th century ( seal ), Pr Carhouense
 
Town
 
Norwich
 
Diocese
 
Norwich
 
Region
 
Norfolk
 
Medieval Location
 
Originally outside of town , south-east of the suburban town , at the church of S. Mary & S. John. Outside of Norwich on property given by King Stephen sometime prior to 1146.
 
Modern Location
 
Norwich
 
Corporate Status
 
Priory
 
Dedication
 
S. Mary and S. John
 
Date Founded
 
1136 (circa), but re-founded circa 1145-1147
 
Date Terminated
 
1536 - 8
 
Religious Order
 
Benedictine
 
Rule
 
Benedictine
 
Foundation Information
 

Two nuns, NULL and NULL, founded Carrow for 10 members (later 13) at S. Mary and S. John's, which may have been a hospital or a Benedictine house (donation made by the first benefactor, 1136). It was perhaps a hospital community with a Catalonia Priory. According to Thompson, Carrow appears to have had an anchorage attached or nearby after its foundation (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 30). Oliva claims King Stephen as the founder of the community (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 93).

 
Notable Heads
 

Maud, Agnes di Monte Gavisio NULL, Magdalen, Petronel, NULL, di Wendling, di Hulm, di Holm, di Carleton, di Lenn, NULL Engys, Wilton, Waryn, Pygot, Spalding, Palmer, Segryme, Wygan, Stafford, Suffield.

 
Notable Members/Residents/Guests
 

Muriel, sister of William di Warenne, in the 12th century, C de Tweyt, about 1335, M de Verley in 1350 and C de Verley in 1370. L Welam in 1459. / lists 1492 & lat / Anc???? / Jane Scrope, who was educated at the community and owned Sparrow, is described in a poem by John Skelton, written in the 16th century. No less than 250 boarders stayed at Carrow from the late fourteenth century through the mid-fifteenth century, including Alice de Cheselden and Lady margaret Kerdeston (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 65). Anchor Roger 1404 /

 
Population Counts
 

There were 10 nuns plus three novices in 1146. There were 13 after 1146, and 11 in 1377. There were more than 10 nuns in 1492. Additional notes on the population: At the fifth count in 1514 there were 10 members. At the time of the sixth count in 1526, there were 8 members. The seventh count held in 1532 found more than 8, and the eighth census yielded more than 8: 7 men and 8 women, who were servants in 1538.

 
Priveleges & Papal Exemptions
 

A papal bull issued at the request of the nuns of Carrow in 1229 attempted to stoop lords from using their influence to force the community to receive more inmates than they could maintain (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 187).

 
Visitations
 

There were to be no more nuns[?], according to Pope Gregory X, 1273. They were granted an indulgence by Pope Benedict IX in 1391. A visitation in 1492 recorded the community as well. There were further visitations in 1514, 1526, 1532.

 
Patrons/Benefactors
 

The crown and Warenne are thought to have been patrons, but further research is necessary to veify this. King Stephen was a patron before 1146. Other benefactors were Reginald di Warenne, and his wife, Alice; William di Warenne and his sister, Muriel, who was a nun; and Richard Segrim. In the 12th century there were many small donations. Before 1237 NULL acted as a patron; Agnes Thorpe was a benefactor around 1500, and Margery Dogett patronized the community in 1516. Bishop Broun also left small bequests to the nuns here (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 57).

 
Secular Political Affiliations
 

Carrow entered into litigation about land holdings with Robert di Stamford sometime before 1280. It also had disputes that required litigation with the bishop regarding tithes in 1418. Later in the 15th century it was in litigation with the town concerning the fair and jurisdiction.

 
Social Characteristics
 

There were only nuns in the 12th century, but monks came from the town in the 15th century. [?]

 
Assets/Property
 

Its assets included land holding and a chapter house acquired between 1261-1361. It also exercised jurisdictional authority. In 1381 peasants from Wroxham seized documents. The assets of the community were valued as worth more than 69 pounds per year in 1291; more than 64 pounds per year in 1535. Valombrosian: 145 pounds in 1535.

 
Income
 

Income came from rents and the fair of 1199, which was limited after 1289. Additional income came from tithes and jurisdiction: proved wills 1327; gallows.

 
Charitable/Work
 

Thought to have run a school for girls of leading families in the province. The school is thought to have existed about 1445 but further research is necessary to verify this date.

 
Other Economic Activities
 

The prioress of Carrow was exempt from municipal jurisdiction as she held exclusive rights over her lands inside and outside Norwich. Her jurisdiction allowed her to probate wills and maintain a gallows. Carrow also had the right to hold a four day fair on the vigil, day, and two days following the Nativity of the Virgin (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 27-8).

 
Litigations
 

Carrow entered into litigation about land holdings with Robert di Stamford sometime before 1280. It also had disputes that required litigation with the bishop regarding tithes in 1418. Later in the 15th century it was in litigation with the town concerning the fair and jurisdiction.

 
Early Documents
 

[1]Records the donation of the site by King Stephen. (1146)
[2] The second document is from King John and gives the community the privilege of a fair. The nature of this document needs further research in order to verify this description. (1199)

 
Art & Artifacts
 

Two seals remain (see On the Excavation of the Site of Carrow Abbey, Norwich for image), one from the twelfth century that depicts S. Mary and child and the fleur-del-lis. The second seal comes from the thirteenth century, and it depicts the same Mary and child with the Prioress kneeling, holding a scroll. There is also stain glass from this priory. However, Dugdale lists 4 seals.

 
Architecture & Archaeology
 

The convent was built on marshy ground to the south of the town walls of Norwich. According to nineteenth-century excavations (On the Excavation of the Site of Carrow Abbey, Norwich) and the alignment of the chancel and nave, construction began from the east of the church in the mid-twelfth century, and the nave was completed in the early thirteenth century (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 83-4). The blank arcading of the interior of the church survives partially. On the north side of the chancel was the chapel to S. Catherine; to the south are foundations of the chapel dedicated to S. John the Baptist. There was another chapel further south. The sacristry projected east from the transept and was entered from the transept through a doorway with refined mouldings and shafts (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 84). Beyond the south transept was a slype containing remains of a circular stairway, which probably served as the night-stairs of the nuns. The chapter house extended beyond the east range. The day-stairs of the nuns were located to the south of the chapter-house. A portion of the dormitory wall retains the doorway which led from the day-stairs to the cloister. The east range is represented by an extant west wall; this was the location of the dormitory, which extended south beyond the limit of the rectangular cloister. Attached to the east range, immediately south of the chapter-house, are the foundtions of a small structure thought to represent the latrine-block. Fragments of masonry to the east of the cloister, at the edge of the River Wensum, may represent the infirmary (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 84). The west range was rebuilt by the Prioress Isabel Wygun in the sixteenth century and is still extant. It was restored between 1899-1909. Restitivity survey indicated that the cloister was re-ordered, with the demolition of the original west range in order to build the prioress's lodge. Twelve burials from the church and its graveyard to the north have been excavated. One of the graves was that of a priest. With the exception of the priest and a child, all the burials were of adult women. A thirteenth-century cooking pot was also found on the site. The church is unusually large for a female house. The church, chapter-house projecting from the range and the dormitory extended beyond the cloister, all indicate a house of unique status within the women's communities of medieval East Anglia (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 85).

 
State Of Medieval Structure
 

Extensive remains include part of the aiseld cruciform norman church. The church terminates in a square-ended chancel.

 
Manuscript Sources
 

The cartulary for Carrow is no longer extant, but extracts from it have been preserved by Tanner (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 49). Reg. Regum, iii, 226-7; Oxford, Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Tanner MSS 342, f. 149.

 
Miscellaneous Information
 

Two Bishops were consecrated here in 1245. An Abbess was tried for murder in 1416. Anchoresses played a Christmas game in which a nun was equal to the Prioress in 1526. In 1532 the younger nuns were cautioned against wearing silk waist-bands and gossiping (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 56).

 
Manuscripts Produced
 

An elaborately illuminated psalter which belonged to Carrow includes a series of full-frame illustrations of important female saints (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 53).

 
Contributors
 
Marilyn Oliva
 
Contributors Notes
 

One entry states that the house was founded in 1146 by Seyna and Lescelina, "sorores moniales de hospite Sancte Marie et Sancte Johannie in Norwich." The existence of such an establishment is confirmed by a charter of King Stephen referring to a grant of his to the church of S. Mary and S. John. He gave the nuns 25 shillings worth of land and expressed the wish that they should found their church on this site. His charter was drawn up circa 1136-1137, ten years before the date of foundation for Carrow. Such a discrepancy would be explained if the nunnery developed from an earlier institution (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 49).

 
Date Started
 
1136
 
Date Finished
 
1536
 
Length
 
4904