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Cistercian Abbeys: VAUDEY

Name: VAUDEY Location: nr Bourne County: Lincolnshire
Foundation: 1147 Mother house: Fountains
Relocation: 1147-9 Founder: William ‘le Gros’, count of Aumale and earl of York
Dissolution: 1536 Prominent members:
Access: Private Property – no access

Vaudey Abbey was founded in 1147 by William, count of Aumale and earl of York (d. 1179). It was the sixth successful daughter-house of Fountains. The community was originally settled at Bytham, near to William’s stronghold at Castle Bytham in the south of Lincolnshire. However, the monks soon found the land unsuitable and by 1149 one of William’s tenants, Geoffrey de Brachecourt, had provided the community with new lands in the nearby parish of Grimsthorpe. The new site was in a tributary valley of the river Glen and was named ‘Vallis Dei’, or the Valley of the God, after this location. In Norman-French the name translated as ‘Vaudey’. During the thirteenth century the house flourished and probably became one of the largest in the Order. Profits from wool brought the house considerable income and by the late thirteenth century this had reached approximately £200 per annum. The house appears to have been held in high regard throughout its earlier years. In 1229 the abbot was sent in the king’s name to bear messages to Llewelyn, Prince of Wales and in 1280 the abbot was empowered to arrest all vagabond Cistercian monks or lay-brothers, by the help of the secular arm, and to inflict appropriate punishment.

By the end of the thirteenth century the abbey was experiencing some financial difficulties and the number of monks probably decreased. At the time of the Dissolution the net annual income of the abbey was valued at £124, and the house was suppressed with the smaller monasteries in 1536. After the monastery was closed, three of the monks took refuge at Kirkstead Abbey rather than make their own way in the world. It was an unfortunate move, for they were singled out for execution in 1537 after they were implicated in the Lincolnshire rebellion.
By the mid-sixteenth century the abbey buildings were already in a state of ruin and in 1736 William Stukeley noted that only the precinct wall remained in tact.
Today there are no standing remains although earthworks mark the position of the central monastic complex. The site is within the boundaries of Grimsthorpe Park; the property is privately owned and is not accessible to the public