Community ID
Alternate Names
Escherte (1146); Escherthe (1203); Eschert (1212); Escherte; de Escerthe (1260); Kerecescherte (1310); Kirchescherde, Altescherde, Grossescherde; Bovingehusen (1212, 1224); Eskert (1253); Esgerte (1308); Kloster Escherde
near Hannover; in the district of Gronau
Medieval Location
The convent was established in Gross Eschede and moved to Bovingehusen in 1236. It was located in the duchy of Braunschweig-Lueneburg (1180-1235) and then in Hildesheim (1235-1523).
Modern Location
The convent is located in the district of Hannover in the diocese of Hildesheim.
Corporate Status
Mary (1236); John the Baptist and John the Apostle (1262)
Date Founded
Date Terminated
1625; reestablished 1652. The convent was finally dissolved in 1810.
Religious Order
(Benedictine by circa 1441; initially unknown, see foundation)
Foundation Information

The convent was founded in 1203 by the knight, Luppold von Escherde in Gross Escherde (today). The foundation charter was confirmed by the Bishop of Hildesheim, Hartbert. The convent was described as a "cenobium" with a "conventus von famulae dei" and the right to freely elect its provost (Faust, 193). No rule is mentioned for the community, which was established primarily to perform liturgical duties. In later documents the inhabitants were referred to as "sanctimoniales" (nuns), and the convent appears to have observed a Benedictine way of life (Faust, 195). The convent was originally established on two main streets; the second provost, Heinrich, sought to transfer the community to Bovingehusen due to the noise and traffic. In 1236 Bishop Konrad II confirmed the transfer of the convent to Bovingehusen (Faust, 194).

First Members

The origin of the first members is unknown.

Notable Heads

The first prioress, mentioned in 1285 and again in 1305, is M. Methildis. She was followed by Elisabeth (1315), Elisabeth (1356), Sophya (1359), Vredeke (1369), Yisebe (1378), Adelheid von Reden (Alheydis) (1393, 1394), v. Spengersche (1441), Gertrud (1469, 1473) and Mette (1494).

Notable Members/Residents/Guests

In 1264 Ermegardis, the daughter of Johann von Escherde, entered the convent. Her dowry consisted of land possessions in Gross Escherde. Likewise, when the daughter of Knight Heinrich von Barienrode became a nun in the convent in 1282, the convent acquired land in Eberholzen (Faust, 205-6). With the entrance of the daughter of Knight Eilhard von Dötzum in 1288 the convent's land holdings were increased.

Population Counts

In 1588 there were 7 nuns and 3 novices.

Incorporated Communities

The parish church of Gross Escherde was later incorporated into the convent of Escherde.

Dependency Of

Circa 1296 the convent became a dependency of the Cistercian convent of Marienrode.

Other Ecclesiastical Relations

Until 1259 the Cistercian convent of Marienrode held the right of patronage over the parish of Betheln; in 1296 these rights were transfered to Escherde. The convent also possessed rights of patronage over the parish church in Gross Escherde (Faust, 208).


In 1441 the convent had a visitation from the Augustinian provost Johannes Busch. According to Faust, the nuns feared that this visitation would result in attempts to impose a stricter lifestyle (Faust, 196). The visitation went well and resulted in the election of a new prioress, who along with the convent willingly accepted Busch's reforms. Busch mentions that he introduced the singing of prayers before and after the meals in the refectory. The nuns accepted a stricter discipline willingly so that Busch was satisfied with his first visit to the convent (Faust, 196). Busch introduced new ceremonies and confession prior to Mass, to which the nuns had previously been indisposed. In 1542/43 the convent experienced a Lutheran visitation.

Secular Political Affiliations

Knight Luppold and his descendants possessed the right of advocacy over the convent. After their death the convent would be free to choose its advocate. In 1523 the convent came into the possession of Duke Erich von Calenberg-Göttingen and belonged to the Duchy of Calenberg.

Social Characteristics

The composition of the convent is uncertain, but from the second half of the thirteenth century daughters of the surrounding nobility entered the convent (Faust, 208). The provost elected at the time of Busch's visitation came from the noble family of Spengersche.

Relative Wealth

The convent was supported through tithes and land acquisitions, some of which came from the dowries of women who entered the convent (see notable members).


The foundation comprised ecclesiastical land as well as land from the properties of the Knight Luppold in Gross Escherde. In 1203 the convent acquired additional land-holdings, a farm in Wennerde bei Sarstedt and another in Grasdorf near Hannover. In 1212 the convent was enriched through the acquisition of the tithes in Bovingehusen; these tithes played an important role in the subsequent history of the convent (Faust, 194). The convent received tithes from the following communities: Bovingehusen (1212), Eddinghausen and Oddingehusen (1241), Achem (1259), Betheln (1301), and Barfelde (1305). In subsequent years the convent acquired tithes from more distant locations: Eberholzen (1240), Gross Escherde (1268), and Hönze (1299). The tithes from Barfelde went for the support of a hospital and the tithes went for the clothes of the nuns (Faust, 205). In a document from 1219 Bishop Siegfreid I confirmed that the brothers Volkmar and Ludolf von Ysissem sold their property in Wennerde to the convent. The document of transfer from 1236 displays the development of the covent's possessions through gifts and perhaps the dowries of entering nuns. In the middle of the thirteenth century the convent acquired land-holdings in Oddingehusen, Achem and Betheln; later it acquired holdings in Gronau and in Rheden. In 1296 Knight Dietrich von Escherde gave the convent a farm and 10 acres of land in Gross Escherde. According to calculations from the documents, it is estimated that in the fourteenth century the convent held 300 acres in Bovingehusen, Oddingehusen, Eddinghausen, Achem, Betheln and Barfelde. It also possessed 250 acres in the more distant areas of Gross Escherde, Eberholzen, Rheden, Brueggen and Wallenstedt (Faust, 206). In 1324 the convent held vassals in Eddinghausen. All farmers in Betheln were required to pay tithes in produce and meat to the convent beginning in 1301 and lasting until 1811 (Faust, 206). The convent benefitted from an improved economic climate in the fourteenth century. However, many feuds towards the end of the fourteenth century brought the convent to a poverty level, as they did for the community of Lammspringe. In 1369 the convent had to sell 120 acres of land. Other sales of land followed in the fourteenth century. In 1427 the convent's burdens were lessened by the dissolution of some of the convent's responsibilities through the payment of a one-time sum (Faust, 195). The convent also relied on possession of lime for its financial upkeep (Faust, 195).


It appears that the convent ran a hospital, because the tithes from Barfelde were marked for the support of this.

Art & Artifacts

The convent seal depicted a seated Madonna with Christ child, and next to her, John the Evangelist and the head of John the Baptist (Faust, 215).

State Of Medieval Structure

There are no remains of the medieval structures of the convent.

Manuscript Sources

A Liber precum (15th c.) in the Dombibliothek Hildesheim, MS: Hs. 729, has been attributed to the convent. Most of the convent's archives are located in the HauptStaatsarchiv Hannover. The Dombibliothek Beverina has the Necrology of the convent and other documents and facsimiles from the convent, as well as an inventory from 1591.

Published Primary Sources

Urkundenbuch des Hochstifts Hildesheim 1-7.

Secondary Sources

EscherdeVerzeichnis der Stifter und Klöster Niedersachsens vor der ReformationHandschriftenerbe des Deutschen Mittelalters, vol. 1, p. 234.
BLUME, H. "700 Jahre Kloster Haus Escherde." Heimat. Beilage no. 17 der Gerstenbergschen Zeitung (1937): 130-4.
GOLINSKI, D. "Die Geschichte des Klosters Escherde." Unsere Heimatische Beilage zur Leine- und Deisterzeitung 8 (1960):no. 1.
DEPPING, K. Geschichte von Betheln, Barfelde, Eddinghausen und Haus Escherde Vol. 1-2. Elze, 1982.

Miscellaneous Information

Little information is available about the internal life of the nuns in this convent. No catalog of the library nor documents are extant. There are no textiles preserved from this convent, as appear from many other convents in Lower Saxony. According to the order of the bishop the nuns should confess before they went to Mass and communion on the following day. The convent underwent conversion to the Lutheran reform peacefully in the 1540s, but there are indications that internally the nuns did not completely adhere to Lutheran beliefs (Faust, 197). The nuns particularly objected to their new habits and the communion in both kinds (Faust, 197). In 1547 Duke Erich the Younger, the son of Elisabeth was re-converted to Catholicism and Lutheranism was forbidden in Escherde (Faust, 198). Financial difficulties, however, forced him to return the convent to his mother's care, who once again instilled the Lutheran practices. The convent was disbanded in 1625 but reestablished in 1652.

Manuscripts Produced

Little is known about the monastic library at Escherde, only one manuscript (a Liber precum) has been potentially identified as stemming from the convent. It is located in the Dombibliothek Hildesheim, Hs. 729. According to the protestant visitation, the nuns of the convent were largely uneducated and unable to understand the Latin Bible. The reform demanded that the provost acquire a German Bible and Catechism so that the nuns could learn to read and write (Faust, 210).

Conversi/ae and servants

The provost held a place of prominence in the convent, as witnessed by the continuous record of its office-holders. It is unclear whether the provost of the convent was secular or a monk, nor is it known whether he was solely responsible for the religious functions in the convent or whether he was aided by priests (Faust, 194). The convent did have lay brothers, who were responsible for the work outside of the convnet. Documents mention a prioress, sub-prioress, chamberlain, cook, and [window woman?] (Fensterfrau).

June Mecham
Date Started
Date Finished