Marham
Community ID
 
1021
 
Alternate Names
 
Marsham, Marham Barbara, Russell Marram in 1428 and Markham at termination. / Coenobium monalium de Marham
 
Town
 
Norwich
 
Diocese
 
Norwich
 
Region
 
Norfolk
 
Medieval Location
 
West of Norwich, south east of Lynn Ea between Shouldham Double Monastery and Blackborough.
 
Modern Location
 
Marham; 5 miles south-west of Narborough, route 47
 
Corporate Status
 
Abbey
 
Dedication
 
S. Mary, S. Barbara ; Dedicated to Edmund at the founding by Richard Bishop of Chichester, Sussex.
 
Date Founded
 
1249, January 27
 
Date Terminated
 
1536, August 6
 
Religious Order
 
Cistercian
 
Rule
 
Benedictine
 
Foundation Information
 

The last Cistercian nunnery founded in England, Isabel, Countess d' Aubigny (Albini)or (Arundel), established the community to benefit the souls of her family with help from Richard, bishop of Chichester. It was confirmed by King Henry the III in 1252. Marham was unique in that it was founded as a Cistercian abbey. The convent was founded on the edge of fen or marsh to the north-east and the river Nar to the north. The abbey was sited to the west of the parish church of Holy Trinity.

 
Notable Heads
 

Mary, Mary, S Gressen Hale, A Howard, M Ingham, E Howard, E. Weyland, Margery, J Narburgh, J Heigham, and B. Mason.

 
Notable Members/Residents/Guests
 

Lay members were buried in the community between 1401-53: Isabel Cooper, Matilda di Marham, Lady Eleanor, widow of William Ingoldsthorp. Between 1401- 53 men as well as women were buried at Marham. There is an obituary list. In 1468 Marham supported three corrodians. The daughter of Edmund Berry, a knight, stayed here as did a man named Leonard Cotton (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 65).

 
Population Counts
 

There were 15 in 1381, 11 in 1470, 10 in 1492, 10 in 1535. According to Knowles and Hadcock there were between 5 and 8 nuns at suppression.

 
Priveleges & Papal Exemptions
 

1252, by Innocent IV

 
Dependency Of
 

It was a dependency of the male monastery of Waverley, which was Cistercian after 1252.

 
Visitations
 

It was granted burial rights after 1251, and [combined?] with other local chapter house in 1401.

 
Patrons/Benefactors
 

After 1300 the Warenne family of Lancaster and before 1377 two daughters of Lancaster acted as benefactors. J D Warenne, Earl of Warenne and Surrey and brother of the founder, was a benefactor of the community in 1302. Further research is necessary to verify Warenne's patronage. Andrew Hengham in 1327 and Constantine Mortimer in 1346 and Richard Holdyche I. Queen Eleanor: the pope confirms a church at her request in 1290. Sir John Plaiz gave lands to the community in 1385 (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 60).

 
Secular Political Affiliations
 

Queen Eleanor: the pope confirms a church at her request in 1290.

 
Assets/Property
 

Assets included land holdings, the manor of the founder, several chapter houses (6 by 1416) and burial rights after 1251. It had a water and a fulling mill. In 1291 Marlham Abbey was considered poor and made exempt from paying tithes. In 1535 it had about 42 pounds a year. In 1535 it was valued at about 38 pounds with some small debts.

 
Income
 

Income came from tithes, rents, (sufficient, Nichols). It held the jurisdiction to prove wills, which was confirmed in 1401. The prioress also had the right to keep gallows (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 27). In 1535 its net annual income was valued at 33 pounds, 13 shillings and 5 3/4 pence according to the Suppression Commission (London: P.R.O., Church Goods, King's Remembrance, E 117, 11/7, 1-3). Knowles and Hadcock lists the net income of 1535 as over 39 pounds.

 
Charitable/Work
 

Marlham had a school and did some teaching, took in boarders, and distributed alms.

 
Early Documents
 

[1]The foundation document (January 27, 1249)
[2]The confirmation of dependency of male monastery (1252)

 
Architecture & Archaeology
 

An Aerial photo was taken on June 20, 1954 (Cambridge Univ.: Dept. of Aerial Photo, OD 14-16) which clearly shows the mounds where the walls of the abbey once stood. Its reconstruction was possible based on the measuring of the mounds and the physical description given by the Suppression Commission (London: P.R.O., Church Goods, King's Remembrance, E 117 11/7, 1-3) for 1536. The cloister was formed by a walkway with pentice roof projecting from the south wall of the church. According to Nichols, the reconstructed cloister would have contained a cruciform church with the cloister to the south, chapter-house projecting beyond the east range and a refectory from the south range. However, this construction is entirely conjectural. Earthwork remains can be discerned for closes and outbuildings on the site (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 33).

 
State Of Medieval Structure
 

The south wall of the nave survives. Still in existence are mounds of the walls and a south church wall with 2 circular windows intact, plus part of a gatehouse, and an inventory dated August 6, 1535. A small outer parlor on the west range next to the church can still be seen, which measures 31 feet in length and 18 feet in width. "The interior has three bases for the ribbed vault supports and of the two remaining corbels, one has a grotesque human shape and the other has an ornamental animal design" (Nichols, Archaeological, 322). The aerial photo shows the mounds where the walls of the abbey once stood. Reconstruction is possible based on the measuring of the mounds and the physical description given by the Suppression Commission (London: P.R.O., Church Goods, King's Rememberance, E 117 11/7, 1-3) for 1536. Remains of internal wall-plaster survive at the east end of the section of wall, and the north end of the west range is partially extant. This latter survival may represent a part of the guest house. It consists of a forteenth-century room which is rib-vaulted in tow bays. In the south-east corner the ribs are supported by a half-figure of a bearded man who appeaars to be a knight holding a gauntlet or sword-hilt (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 86). A complex to the north-west of the cloister appears to be an infirmary with three ranges grouped around a courtyard. A number of depressions in the south may be fishponds (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 87).

 
Manuscript Sources
 

(London: P.R.O., Church Goods, King's Remembrance, E 117 11/7, 1-3)

 
Miscellaneous Information
 

1 of 2 female Abbesses were Cistercian, English, contemplatives / jurisdiction / scandal (needs verification)
Marham also served as a legal sanctuary for accused wrongdoers (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 27).

 
Admin. Notes
 

[V0512]

 
Contributors
 
Marilyn Oliva; Mary McLaughlin
 
Contributors Notes
 

1 of 2 female Abbesses were Cistercian, English / contemplatives / jurisdiction / scandal , termination date

 
Date Started
 
1249
 
Date Finished
 
1536
 
Length
 
4421