Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Friday, January 9, 2015

January 1216 A.D. Spinney Abbey or Priory of St. Mary and Holy Cross, Cambridgeshire—Founded by Hugh de Malebisse and Beatrix His Wife; Augustinian Canons; Black Death

January 1216 A.D.  Spinney Abbey or Priory of St. Mary and Holy Cross, Cambridgeshire—Founded by Hugh de Malebisse and Beatrix His Wife; Augustinian Canons;  Black Death; Dependent on Ely; Benedictine Monks 1449;  Dissolved 1538;  Granted to Sir Edward North 1544;  Site Occupied by House & Farm

Spinney Abbey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The new house at Spinney Abbey, built in 1775

Spinney Abbey, once known as Spinney Priory, is a house and farm on the site of a former monastic foundation close to the village of Wicken, on the edge of the fens in Cambridgeshire, England.


Monastic origins

Between 1216 and 1228, Beatrice, the granddaughter of Wimar, Steward of the Count of Brittany, founded the Priory of St Mary and the Holy Cross in the spinney a mile (1.6 km) from Wicken. The priory accommodated three canons of theAugustinian order. It was endowed with the advowson of the parish church, 55 acres (223,000 m²) of land, a marsh called Frithfen and the fishery of Gormere. Frithfen is likely to have included at least part of the area now known as Wicken FenNational Nature Reserve, although its exact location is unclear. As such this is the earliest record concerning that area, as well as Spinney Abbey. For centuries the Abbey was associated with the fen, and this continues even now with water being pumped from the farm fields into the Nature Reserve.

In 1301 Mary de Bassingbourne expanded the establishment with 90 acres (364,000 m²) more and four more canons. The bad news was that her endowment depended upon the canons feeding three thousand poor people per year – a task which they soon enough complained was 'grievous and insupportable'.

In 1403 the Prior, William de Lode, was murdered by three of his own canons who stabbed him in the priory church. What happened to the murderers is unrecorded. This grisly tale has given rise to many ghost stories about the Abbey.

Decline and dissolution of the Priory

Fortunes at Spinney declined with the Black Death and the social upheavals of the fourteenth century, and in 1449 Spinney Abbey was absorbed into the priory of Ely, which in due course became Ely Cathedral.

The priory continued in existence and the almshouses it supported were not immediately abolished. In 1536 Henry VIII began the Dissolution of the Monasteries and Spinney Abbey was dissolved.

History since the Dissolution

Spinney became a private property and was owned by various persons, including Sir Edward Peyton who had been a prominent leader of the puritan party during the reign of Charles I.

Isaac Barrow

As a child in 1634, the theologian and mathematician lived for two years at Spinney Abbey which was at that time owned by his grandfather who was also named Isaac Barrow.

Henry Cromwell

Perhaps the most celebrated former owner of Spinney Abbey, and one who actually dwelt there, is Henry Cromwell, the fourth son of Oliver Cromwell. Henry lived in Spinney Abbey after his retirement from his office as Lord Deputy of Ireland at the Restoration. He was a well-respected and capable man, and having petitioned the King was allowed to continue living in peace there despite his father's fate. He owned Spinney from 1659 to his death in 1673, and tradition has it that King Charles II visited him there in September 1671. Henry Cromwell is buried with his wife at Wicken parish church.

The New House

The new house – the current building – was built in 1775. The cellar of the original priory still survives below and in it the great stones of the mediaeval masons are seen, along with some iron fittings which have perhaps inevitably gained the reputation of being the remains of mediaeval prisoners' restraints – although there is no evidence to support such a tale. Other older parts are incorporated into the building – some of the old priory doors, for example.

The farm had problems with flooding, and until the installation of the diesel pumps which still drain it today, this has always been a difficulty. A number of tenants came and went with little success. By 1883 the owner and occupier was Robert Chambers Golding, known as 'Old Golding'. He built the large barn known as Old Golding's Barn, which is still in use. It bears his initials 'RG'.

His son, Chambers Waddelow Golding, known as 'Young Golding', was an eccentric who drank himself to an early death. He once took a horse upstairs, and the imprint of a hoof can be discerned upon the stairs still.

The Fuller family

Since at least 1695 in adjacent Padney, the oldest family in Wicken had been farming alongside Spinney Abbey. In 1892 Thomas Fuller brought his family to farm at Spinney Abbey, and by 1918 the freehold was in the family, and has remained there ever since with various changes to the farm boundaries. In 1900 the farm was a mixed, mainly arable farm. As of 2010 it is still a working farm now farming traditional slow growing breeds, English Longhorn cattle and Gloucester Old Spots Pigs. In 2012 Spinney Abbey Farm launched their first cider: "Monk & Disorderly".

Other associations

Spinney Abbey is the name of the setting for the 1984 detective novel The Jerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes in her 'Inspector Jury' series.


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