Godstow
Community ID
 
1037
 
Alternate Names
 
Godestow, S. Mary and S. John the Baptist, Wolvercote
 
Town
 
Oxford
 
Diocese
 
Lincoln
 
Region
 
Oxford
 
Medieval Location
 
The community is located north of Binsey, in the antique home of the community's founder and three miles from the male monastery of Eynsham.
 
Modern Location
 
Godstow
 
Corporate Status
 
Abbey
 
Dedication
 
S. Mary and S. John the Baptist
 
Date Founded
 
1133 or earlier
 
Date Terminated
 
1539
 
Religious Order
 
Benedictine
 
Rule
 
Benedictine
 
Foundation Information
 

According to the second known document Godstow was founded by Edith, also called Evida, of Winchester after experiencing visions. The community was approved by King Henry I. S. Thompson lists the probable founders as Edith de Lancelene and John de S. John Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 221).

 
Notable Heads
 

NULL
NULL
NULL
NULL
NULL
Felicia Bade, appears in 1220 and 1225
Amphelissa, elected abbess in 1225 and appears in 1235
Flandrina, elected abbess in 1242 and was deposed in 1248
Emma Bloet, elected in 1248 and resigned in 1269
Isolda de Durham, elected in 1269 and resigned in 1278
Rose de Oxeye, elected in 1278 and resigned in 1283
Mabel la Wafre, elected in 1283 and resigned in 1295
Alice de Gorges, elected in 1295 and died in 1304
Maud Upton, elected in 1304 and died in 1316
Margery Dyve, elected in 1316 and died in 1335
Maud de Beauchamp, elected in 1335 and appears in June 1346
NULL, elected in 1349 and died in 1373
Margery Tracy, appears in 1375 and died in 1384
Margaret Mounteney, elected abbess in 1384 and appears in 1413
Agnes Wygtham, elected abbess in 1415 and appears in 1426
Joan, appears in 1428
Agnes, elected abbess in 1430
Elizabeth Felmersham, appears in 1435 and 1445
Alice, appears in 1451 and died in 1470
Margaret More, elected abbess in April 1471
Alice Nunny was abbess in October 1471 and resigned in 1481
Katherine Field, elected abbess in 1481
Isabel Braynton, elected abbess in 1494 and died in 1517
Margaret Tewkisbury, elected abbess in 1517 and resigned 1535
Katharine Bulkeley, alias Bewmarys, elected in 1535 and surrendered in 1539

 
Notable Members/Residents/Guests
 

Eme the first Prioress was the daughter of the founder, as was Avis the second Prioress. NULL, a nun in the community in 1290, was either abducted or eloped. In the 14th and 15th centuries lay members included corrodies and many women residents, for example Alice, wife of Alan of Ayote, stayed at her own cost circa 1363.

 
Population Counts
 

There were 24 in 1133; 17 in 1445; 15 plus in 1520; and 20 in 1535.

 
Dependent Communities
 

In the later half of the twelfth century Archbishop Geoffrey of York attempted to make Clementhorpe a dependency of S. Mary and S. John the Baptist at Godstow.

 
Visitations
 

There were visitations from the Bishop in 1191,1284,1357,1363 and at other times during the 14th and 15th centuries. For the most part they were concerned with laity. In 1316 Abbott of Eynhm visted about administration of property. Bishop visitation.

 
Patrons/Benefactors
 

Patronage moved from S. John to the crown in 1171. Until 1171 John de Saint, who gave the site of the community and others. It then enjoyed the patronage of the crown under King Henry II and King Stehen. Other patrons were Miles of Gloucester and the Earl of Leicester, R. Baalun. Queen Matilda may have been a patron but this needs further research.

 
Secular Political Affiliations
 

Reginald de S. Valery appears to have been overlord of the site; he made donations to Godstow at its foundation and also confirmed the initail grant of land there (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 168). The community had property disputes with the crown in the later part of the 13th century. Many lay woman resided in the community and town scholars visited nuns during the 14th and 15th centuries. Henry II's mistress, Rosamund Clifford, was buried at Godstow (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 182).

 
Social Characteristics
 

The members were mostly nobility or high nobility and gentry from the South of England.

 
Relative Wealth
 

The abbey was one of the wealthiest of the post-Conquest foundations.

 
Assets/Property
 

At the time of foundation, John de S. John, a local lord, witnessed the charter of the bishop granting ecclesiastical immunities to the foundation and made a small grant of a meadow and a mill in Wolvercote (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 168). The community had land holdings both in and out of the province, in Northampton and also in Buckinghamshire, Somershire, Gloucestershire. It also owned urban property in Oxford as well as salt works, a mill, and chapter house. Assests were valued at 200 pounds in the years 1291 & 1445. The community was wealthy but was also in debt due to overspending. Assets were valued at 289 pounds in 1526 and 319 pounds in 1535.

 
Income
 

It collected rents from urban and rural properties and tithes. In 1535 the net income was valued over 275 pounds.

 
Charitable/Work
 

The community administered a school that educated females, the daughters of high nobility from Oxford.

 
Litigations
 

The community had property disputes with the crown in the later part of the 13th century. Many lay woman resided in the community and town scholars visited nuns during the 14th and 15th centuries.

 
Early Documents
 

The first document records the donation of land which became the site of the community by John de S. John. The church was dedicated by Bishop Alexander. (1139)

 
Art & Artifacts
 

There are 3 seals. The first dates from the 12th century and is an image of S. Mary with a scroll a lamb and John the Baptist and the founder in a kneeling position. The other seals are from circa 1379 and 14 the late 14th century.

 
State Of Medieval Structure
 

The medieval abbey is now in ruins, only the western walls still exist.

 
Manuscript Sources
  
Miscellaneous Information
 

The nuns were granted the freedom to choose a member of their won community as prioress (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 185). Foundation date : (before) 1138, according to Dugdale. Termination date : 1540, according to Oliva.

 
Contributors
 
Marilyn Oliva
 
Contributors Notes
 

Rosamond Clifford d. 1176 was buried in the church. Bishop Alexander moved her from the altar to the cemetery in 1191. Her family is also buried there.

 
Date Started
 
1133
 
Date Finished
 
1539
 
Length
 
3206