Site of medieval nunnery, Broadholme


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Site of medieval nunnery, Broadholme
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Lindsey (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 89540 73547

Reasons for Designation

A nunnery was a settlement built to sustain a community of religious women. Its main buildings were constructed to provide facilities for worship, accommodation and subsistence. The main elements are the church and domestic buildings arranged around a cloister. This central enclosure may be accompanied by an outer court and gatehouse, the whole bounded by a precinct wall, earthworks or moat. Outside the enclosure, fishponds, mills, field systems, stock enclosures and barns may occur. The earliest English nunneries were founded in the seventh century AD but most of these had fallen out of use by the ninth century. A small number of these were later refounded. The tenth century witnessed the foundation of some new houses but the majority of medieval nunneries were established from the late 11th century onwards. Nunneries were established by most of the major religious orders of the time, including the Benedictines, Cistercians, Augustinians, Franciscans and Dominicans. It is known from documentary sources that at least 153 nunneries existed in England, of which the precise locations of only around 100 sites are known. Few sites have been examined in detail and as a rare and poorly understood medieval monument type all examples exhibiting survival of archaeological remains are worthy of protection.

The site of the priory of St Mary, Broadholme, is particularly rare in being one of only two Premonstratensian nunneries to be founded in England. The site as never been excavated archaeologically, and post-medieval activity on the site has been of limited impact. Finds of architectural fragments and other remains indicate a good state of preservation underground, particularly beneath the platform which will preserve archaeological evidence for the conventual buildings.


The monument includes the remains of the medieval nunnery of St Mary, Broadholme, a priory of Premonstratensian canonesses founded before 1154 and dissolved in 1536. It was the first of only two nunneries of the Premonstratensian order to be established in England in the Middle Ages. The remains of the nunnery include part of a raised platform and an area of ridge-and-furrow with associated earthworks. The platform, approximately 70m square, lies in the southwest part of the site and is raised approximately 1m above the level of the surrounding land. It is covered by a post-medieval farmhouse, garden, yard and drive, and has been cut away on the west by post-medieval farm buildings and on the south by modern ploughing. Finds made near the house include stone foundations, architectural fragments and a stone coffin, indicating that the platform is the site of the conventual church and associated domestic buildings. Architectural fragments believed to have derived from the remains of the nunnery are built into the farmhouse. Immediately east of the platform, and divided from it by a line of mature hazels, is an area of orchard bounded on the north by an avenue of trees and on the south and east by a fence. In this area human burials have been found, aligned east-west, indicating the site of the conventual cemetery. To the north of both the platform and the orchard lies an area of degraded ridge-and-furrow approximately 40m x 10m wide and other earthworks associated with the conventual precinct. Excluded from the scheduling are the present farmhouse and all fences, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Nottinghamshire: Volume I, (1906)
Religious Houses in Nottinghamshire
Cole, R E G, The Priory of St. Mary of Broadholme
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971)
NAR/OS record, Harper, F.R., SK 87 SE 3, (1962)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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