Lillechurch
Community ID
 
959
 
Alternate Names
 
Higham, Heyham
 
Town
 
Rochester
 
Diocese
 
Rochester
 
Region
 
Kent
 
Modern Location
 
Higham
 
Corporate Status
 
Priory
 
Dedication
 
S. Mary
 
Date Founded
 
1148
 
Date Terminated
 
1521-2
 
Religious Order
 
Benedictine
 
Rule
 
Benedictine
 
Foundation Information
 

The community was founded as a cell of S. Sulpice in Rennes, and is linked with Robert of Arbrissel. It was established by King Stephen and Matilda of Boulogne to provide a suitable community for their daughter, Sant Pere de les Puelles: a Medieval Women's Community., a nun at S. Sulpice. When her father gained the crown of England, she, along with other companions from S. Sulpice, were settled into Stratford at Bowin Middlesex. Discord between the inhabitants of Stratford and the princess led to the foundation of a new house for the princess at Lillechurch in Kent (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 131). Confirmation was granted by Mary's brother William, as well as by the king and queen. It became an independent priory after 1227. At termnation it was granted to S. Johns College in Cambridge.

 
First Members
 

Mary, daughter of King Stephen.

 
Population Counts
 

There were 15 in 1381.

 
Dependency Of
 

S. Sulpice retained links with Lillechurch; the manor of Lillechurch and other grants were confirmed to the abbey of S. Sulpice.

 
Visitations
 

S. Sulpice was granted the right to make annual visitations to Lillechurch.

 
Secular Political Affiliations
 

The convent was founded for Mary, daughter of King Stephen.

 
Income
 

Knowles and Hadcock indicate a possible income of over 26 pounds in 1535.

 
Litigations
 

A charter preserved in the archives of S. John's College, Cambridge, records the settlement of a controversy between S. Sulpice and Lillechurch. It appears that the English nuns had complained to the pope that S. Sulpice had damaged their possessions (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 131). The abbey claimed that the church and manor of Lillechurch had been granted to it. The abbey gained the right to make an annual visitation and to send two nuns to be recieved into the community of Lillelchurch (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 132).

 
Manuscript Sources
 

S. John's College, Cambridge MS D46.98.

 
Published Primary Sources
  
Miscellaneous Information
 

Some of the charters reflect the princess's importance by stating that the grants were made to her. Eileen Power places the foundation date before 1151.

 
Admin. Notes
 

[V0471]

 
Contributors
 
WRL Project
 
Contributors Notes
 

According to Thompson, the evidence from Lillechurch suggests a degree of tension in the relations between the continental abbey and its daughter house in England. However, S. Sulpice probably provided a structure of visitation anad support (Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 132). Also, the personal initiative of the king and especially the queen, and their personal motive for the founding of Lillechurch are clear Women Religious: The Founding of English Nunneries After the Norman Conquest, 166).

 
Date Started
 
1148
 
Date Finished
 
1521
 
Length
 
2595