Thetford
Community ID
 
1019
 
Alternate Names
 
S. George's Thetford, S. Gregorii and Thetfordiense Coenobium
 
Town
 
Norwich
 
Diocese
 
Norwich
 
Region
 
Norfolk
 
Medieval Location
 
Originally at Ling , Lyng: on the Norfolk side of Thetford. It moved to a new location on the Suffolk side in about 1160: south-west of Norwich at the site of the antique male monastery S. Georges. It is about twelve miles from Bury S. Edmunds.
 
Modern Location
 
Thetford
 
Corporate Status
 
Priory
 
Dedication
 
S. George and S. Gregory
 
Date Founded
 
1166 (original foundation as a male community may have been as early as 1030)
 
Date Terminated
 
1537
 
Religious Order
 
Benedictine
 
Rule
 
Benedictine
 
Foundation Information
 

Prioress Cecila and some nuns moved here after the monks left the male monastery of Bury S. Edmunds about 1160. According to Thompson, there are hints that women had previously followed a religious life in the shelter of the abbey before it became a nunnery (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 64). Thompson lists Abbot Hugh of Bury S. Edmunds as the probable founder (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest 230). In 1160 the community moved to a new location south-west of Norwich at the site of the antique male monastery of S. Georges, Thetford, which was founded during the time of Cnut. The community was sited south of the walls of Thetford. It was further isolated from the town by its placement within a loop of the River Thet.

 
Notable Heads
 

NULL; Cecilia, Agnes, E. de Berdesette, Berdwell, M. Bretom, B de Lystone, D de Wakethorp, Bakethorp, M Campleon, and M Chyk, M Copynger, Copyng, J Eyton, S Frost, E.Hothe, Both, and Heath.

 
Notable Members/Residents/Guests
 

Margaret Nonne was a corrody in 1214. Other lay members included the baby daughter of J. Jerves. It is traditionally believed that T. Forster, with his wife, three children, and servants, made their home here in 1532. Joan di Fuldon in 1305.

 
Population Counts
 

There were probably 26 around 1291. There were 12 nuns in 1381. There were 9 in 1418, and more than 7 in 1492. There were 9 in 1514, and more than 7 in 1526. There were 10 nuns in 1532.

 
Dependency Of
 

According to Thompson, Thetford was a dependency of the Benedictine male monastery Bury S. Edmunds. However, according to Bruce Venarde this is an overstatement; he regards the community as a dependency of the earlier settlement at Ling. It paid four shillings a year to the Bury infirmary. The monks of Bury were clearly responsible for providing the initial endowment of the nuns of Thetford, and its appears that they also provided weekly supplies of bread and beer (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 64).

 
Visitations
 

The was an ecclesiatic visitation in 1492 and again in 1514 to assuage the fear of many nuns who became alarmed after the Prioress admitted deaf and deformed nuns. Other visitations were held in 1520, 1526, 1532 to good outcomes.

 
Patrons/Benefactors
 

The male monastery Bury S. Edmunds supported Thetford. Abbotts & male monks at Bury S. Edmunds. Before 1247, NULL, Countess of Norfolk & Warenne, assisted Thetford. Margaret Purdans gave the community a book in 1481. Sir John Plaiz gave the community lands in 1385 (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 60).

 
Secular Political Affiliations
 

In 1438 there was litigation with Robert Poppy, the Ling rector, over community property at Ling after neglect of rents.

 
Assets/Property
 

The community held all Bury property in Norwich, both Norfolk & Suffolk, and a chapter house in Norfolk. The community assets were evaluated to be more than 72 pounds in 1291. In 1535 the comunity had about 50 pounds per year, less outlays. There was a decline in revenues after 1349 following a flood. Oliva sets the value of the convent's income at 40 pounds at the time of dissolution (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 93).

 
Income
 

Income was derived from rents and work food (bread, beer, cooked) from Bury. Greater amounts of yearly grain and money was seen after 1369. The monks of Bury were clearly responsible for providing the initial endowment of the nuns of Thetford, and its appears that they also provided weekly supplies of bread and beer (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 64). The income from temporalities was over 72 pounds in 1291. In 1535 the community's net income was valued at over 40 pounds (Medieval Religious Houses in England and Wales, 220).

 
Litigations
 

In 1438 there was litigation with Robert Popy, the Ling rector, over community property at Ling after neglect of rents.

 
Early Documents
 

[1]Monastic regulations of Bury[?].
[2]Gift of the Countess of Norfolk.

 
Architecture & Archaeology
 

At Lyng associated finds include medieval pottery, a late Saxon pin and sceatta (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 87). The priory was established on marshy ground. Its precinct was defined by the town walls to the north-west and the river to the south-east. There are indications of a fishpond to the east. (See Present State of Medieval Structure) Recent excavations south of the transept indicate foundations for the screen. The chapter-house was contained within the walls of the east range. An early well was suggested in the area around the south range. Skeletons have been recorded around the exterior of the chancel and possibly to the west of the church; two early skeletons were excavated in the nave (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 89).

 
State Of Medieval Structure
 

The medieval and later buildings exhibit an unusual quantity of fine ashlar limestone. The abundance of limestone may relate to the earlier occupation of the site by Bury St. Edmunds while river transport was still possible (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 88). Extensive remains of the twelfth century and later indicate an aisleless church with south trnsept, with portions of the chapter-house surviving to the south of the transept. The transept is entered through a wide two-centered arch with Norman respond scallop capitals. In the south-east corner of the transept there is a staircase to the upper storey of the east range that would have been the night-stairs for the nuns. The south wall of the church appears to be original twelfth-century fabric. Two blocked openings south of the transept suggest entrances to the church from the cloister alleys. Much of the north wall appears to have been rebuilt in the fifteenth century. Fifteenth-century fabric includes two large windwos in the north wall and one in the south transept east wall. A structure to the south of the cloister, a two-story building in ashlar with a cell attached to the north end, may have been an infirmary (Gilchrist/Oliva, 88). The cell to the north, often thought to have been an infirmary, was more likely a guest house (Religious Women in Medieval East Anglia: History and Archaeology c. 1100-1540., 89).

 
Manuscript Sources
 

[1]Cambridge University Library MS Ff ii, 29
[2] British Library Harleian MS 743, fos. 271-272.

 
Miscellaneous Information
 

Thetford experienced a scandal in 1305. Three clerics were discovered at night with servant [of?] Joan di Fuldon who fled the community.

 
Admin. Notes
 

[V0475]
MAD 7/31
Location--(Dof Bury S. Edmunds ),--unknown???
Early documents--mon reg Bury ? monastic regulations of Bury?
Residents/guests--: see NOT / NO 5 : 10 ,much irregular non little paying corrodies , 1532???

 
Contributors
 
Marilyn Dunn; Bruce Venarde; Marilyn Oliva
 
Contributors Notes
 

Thetford experienced a scandal in 1305. Three clerics were discovered at night with servant [of?] Joan di Fuldon who fled the community. Thetford was earlier located at Ling. According to Bruce Venarde, its dependency upon Bry S. Edmunds is an overstatement.

 
Date Started
 
1166
 
Date Finished
 
1537
 
Length
 
5024